We knew changes would be on the horizon when Matt Nagy took over the Chicago Bears, but this is one I’m not sure any of us saw coming:
#Bears moving DL Rashaad Coward to OL. He's a guard.
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) April 17, 2018
Nagy informed the media assembled at Halas Hall that the team would be experimenting with second-year player Rashaad Coward on the offensive line, specifically at guard. That’s quite a twist in Coward’s career arc, considering the Bears signed him as an undrafted free agent as a nose tackle after the 2017 NFL Draft.
When the Bears plucked Coward, he was expected to slide in as a reserve nose tackle behind Eddie Goldman. Pro Football Focus graded Coward as a balanced defender who could play on running and passing downs. Nearly a year later, Coward is being tossed in the mix on the offensive side of the ball.
I suppose there is no better time than now – the first day of the team’s three-day minicamp – to get Coward integrated into the new offense. And with well-regarded offensive line coach Harry Hiestand in tow, there might not be a better coach to help Coward through this transition. Coward joins the mix of reserve linemen that includes Jordan Morgan, Will Pericak, Earl Watford, Cameron Lee, Brandon Greene, and Bradley Sowell.
Moves like this don’t happen often and they aren’t always successful. However, some Bears fans might remember James “Big Cat” Williams, who worked his way into the defensive line rotation as a rookie in 1991 and made the full-time switch to right tackle that began with 15 starts in 1994. Williams started 143 of 144 possible games from 1994 until 2002, and even made a Pro Bowl in 2001.
That’s a best case scenario, but one fans can dream on moving forward.