Rookies In Focus: Kyle Long

Steve Palazzolo breaks down the seasons of 2013's rookie interior offensive linemen.

| 3 years ago

Rookies In Focus: Kyle Long

With the rookie edge rushers and offensive tackles analyzed in depth, we’re moving to the interior of the offensive line. In recent years, we’ve seen more guards and centers drafted in the first round, with two guards going in the Top-10 a year ago in Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack. Unfortunately, Cooper never took a regular season snap after going down to injury during the preseason but Warmack, as well as fellow first round guard Kyle Long started every game for their respective teams.

We also saw the emergence of our Rookie of the Year, Larry Warford, who more than solidified one of the guard spots in Detroit. He clearly stood out as the best of the rookie interior linemen, all the more impressive considering the learning curve often associated with the position. Here’s a look at all of the rookie interior linemen.

This is by no means a definitive draft grade on any of these players, just a one-year look at their role and production, and perhaps a look forward to how they might improve. 

 [click to: comparison graphics | Chance Warmack | Kyle Long | Larry Warford]


Round 1, No 20. : Kyle Long, Chicago Bears

rookie-IOL-inset-longRole: 16 Starts at RG

We may have been as guilty as anyone in starting the Kyle Long hype train as he was our top-graded guard during the preseason. While he did show that early promise, he did take a step back during the regular season on his way to finishing at -3.3 overall to rank 43rd among guards. He was hit-or-miss during the season, posting grades of at least +1.0 in five games but also notching seven games of -1.0 or worse. He’ll be searching for consistency as he heads into his second year.

Pass Blocking

Grade: -2.1
Pass Block Snaps: 664
Total Pressures: 32
Sacks: 2
Hits:  9
Hurries: 21
Pass Blocking Efficiency: 96.1

While the Bears improved their sack totals on offense, they still gave up a fair amount of pressure. Long played next to fellow rookie Jordan Mills who had his struggles as well. Like Warmack’s issues with the bullrush, Long’s weakness was to his outside shoulder where he gave up 50 percent of his pressures. He did show improvement in the second half of the season as he graded at +2.5 over his last eight games.

Long gives up the outside:

Long Pressure


Run Blocking

Grade: -3.8
Run Block Snaps: 406

During the preseason, Long showed well when asked to block on the move and in space, but that wasn’t always the case during the regular season. He wasn’t particularly effective when asked to pull, though it wasn’t a huge part of the Bears’ running game. He did, however, do a much better job sealing defenders at the second level. He was inconsistent when blocking at the line of scrimmage, but he did have success opening up the back side on zone plays.

Long easily shed on the pull block:

Long Pull

Long whiffs at the line of scrimmage:

Long Whiffs

Long does a nice job sealing at the second level:

Long 2L


Final Word

The Bears shocked many analysts by selecting Long in the first round, many of whom thought he’d need some development time. That analysis seems to hold true as Long flashed his potential throughout his rookie season but he still has some work to do in order to live up to his first round status.


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| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • joel

    incorrect analysis

  • Joel

    And I noticed that you did not mention his Pro Bowl accolades as a rookie…. Your credibility has been lost….

    • Shawn

      I think if anything, that would be the whole point of the article. PFF shows that a player like long is all based off of name recognition, and he really didn’t deserve a pro-bowl nod. It’s media hype that has given the wrong idea of how average a player Long is. When comparing to ESPN or CBS Sport, PFF seems to always be a year ahead of the curve.

      • Justin calkins

        If you watched ay of the bears game you would see he clearly was a pro bowl caliber Rg. Almost every long run was sprung by long lighting up the first defender then using his athleticism to get to the second level.
        Fortes 1300(#2 in the league) yards were in very large part due to longs great blocking

  • Daniel Lawson

    I think is where the eye test has more value the PFF numbers… Long showed consistent improvement and I think that one of the biggest examples of that was his game vs the Lions 1st vs 2nd game

  • Eric O. Nelson, III

    How in the world was he a pro bowler? He was beaten repeatedly last year. Popularity contest.

    • Justin calkins

      How many bears games did you watch?

  • Justin calkins

    I watch every bears game and long consistently was responsible for pancaking the d line man and then bouncing to the second level to put a body on a lb which lead to some monster runs by forte. Pff go to sleep you’re drunk