Bears will put James Daniels at left guard

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The Bears took one of the top-rated centers in this year’s draft class in the second round on Friday night, but James Daniels won’t be starting his pro career at that position.

General Manager Ryan Pace said on Friday night that the plan is for Daniels to start his Bears career at left guard. Chicago has an opening at that spot after declining Josh Sitton‘s option this offseason and Cody Whitehair returns after 32 straight starts the last two seasons.

Pace also said the team thinks Daniels, who turns 21 in September, will grow as a player in the coming years.

“We feel there’s still a lot of upside ahead, as young as he is,” Pace said, via the Chicago Tribune. “You see these offensive linemen kind of get caught in awkward positions. He has the ability to recover and maintain his balance. Some guys awkwardly go down in those moments, he doesn’t do that.”

Daniels was one of two offensive players drafted on Friday with wide receiver Anthony Miller coming 12 picks later in the second round. That continues an offseason devoted to fleshing out the lineup around quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who once beat Daniels’ team in a high school playoff game, in his second season.