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Gabe Carimi: Dark Horse For the Right Tackle Spot?

Is it a longshot to think someone who has been injured for weeks may be our right tackle? Yes. Is it an even bigger longshot to think the offensive line may be just fine without Sam Baker? Not as much.

Mike Tice is always watching Gabe Carimi. Always.
Mike Tice is always watching Gabe Carimi. Always.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe Carimi's NFL career has been a pretty big disaster, even before he was drafted. The Chicago Bears had their man, confidently called up the Baltimore Ravens, and offered them a 4th round pick to trade from 29th overall to 26. Carimi was theirs.

Except they never called the league office to confirm the trade. The time ran out on the pick, the Kansas City Chiefs foolishly ran up their selected of Jonathan Baldwin, and the Ravens, angry the Bears failed to complete the trade, took Jimmy Smith. Carimi dropped to the Bears, where he fixed their offensive line was traded for a ham sandwich after two seasons.

Tampa Bay, let him play a little, then quickly cut him after new Bucs coach/former Bears coach Lovie Smith took over.

Mike Tice, offensive line coach for Carimi's rookie year, thought more of Carimi than his former head coach, and likely pushed for Atlanta to sign him. Why would he do that? Carimi should be good depth at guard and right tackle, but can also play right tackle better than Lamar Holmes.

Actually, I think I can play right tackle better than Lamar Holmes.

While Holmes can improve, the PFF numbers on Carimi showed some signs of progress. He very well could be the player some expected he could be. Not what the Bears or anyone else who very highly of Carimi, but maybe someone like Walter Football, who compared Carimi to Jeremy Trueblood. Hopefully with less penalties.

Carimi has size and he is a powerful run blocker, but lacks the athleticism, technique and consistency for him to be even discussed as a first-round talent. I think he is a second- or third-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and I currently have a third-round grade on Carimi.

While we got the bad end of Trueblood, he was a good right tackle for years. It would be pretty crazy to think Carimi could turn into a great NFL player, but he has the tools to be an average right tackle. He is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-7 and 316-pounds, but lacks the speed to play the pass rush.

Based on PFF's advanced numbers, Carimi was understandably inconsistent in his sophomore season. That is pretty typical for young offensive linemen (see: Holmes, Lamar), especially ones that are on their second offensive line coach in the pros.

Carimi played about 1.5 games in his rookie year, but had some nice run blocking grades in his sophomore season. Pass blocking was Holmes-esque, but he will always be a bigger run blocker. Over one season, Carimi had a slightly better pass blocking grade in a Jay Cutler offense than Holmes, but had an impressively positive run blocking grade. Holmes was pretty deep in the red.

The odds may not seem great for Carimi right now. He has been dealing with a rolled ankle for a few weeks and has not been able to practice. Of course, it has only been a few days since Sam Baker was lost for the season, so the starting right tackle is likely still up in the air.

In fact, if Carimi can get healthy, he would be likely to give Holmes plenty of competition for the right tackle position. It will not be a position of strength, but Carimi could very well be a dark horse to play right tackle.