A former Illinois football offensive lineman is getting a shot at the starting job unexpectedly.
Heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, the Illini had a couple of handfuls of players who had grades good enough to potentially get picked. Kerby Joseph was the highest player to get selected, going in the third round with pick No. 33 to the Detroit Lions.
Vederian Lowe would be the next Illinois player to get picked. He went in the sixth round with pick No. 5 by the Minnesota Vikings. The final Illini player to get picked was Doug Kramer. The former Illinois center was also picked in the sixth round with pick No. 29 by the Chicago Bears.
I honestly didn’t expect Kramer to get picked, but he impressed the Bears enough for them to take a flyer on the talented offensive lineman. Chicago also needed depth, and that proved to be true early on in training camp.
Doug Kramer is getting first-team reps at center with the Chicago Bears.
Heading into the start of training camp, ESPN had the Bears’ depth chart showing Lucas Patrick as the starting center with Sam Mustipher as his backup. Kramer was the third-string center.
Well, on Thursday, the center position got a little shake-up. According to various reports, Patrick was injured and walked off the field with a trainer. The Bears had Mustipher playing guard in training camp, so who stepped in to take first-team reps?
While Kramer is just a rookie and hasn’t played a single snap in the NFL, he does have plenty of experience at the college level. He started 48 games at center with the Illini. In 2019, he also had 14 big-time run blocks, which was the most ever recorded by Pro Football Focus, according to FightingIllini.com.
I am sure Patrick is going to come back healthy within the next couple of days, but getting Kramer experience this early in his career is a great thing for the Bears. He could easily be the future at the center position, so first-string snaps are invaluable.
I love seeing another Illinois player getting action in the NFL. If I had to bet, Kramer is going to be a staple with the Bears for a very long time.