Some familiar faces are in new places at Halas Hall:
Interesting roster note here at #Bears OTA: Mizzel listed as a WR, Sowell listed as a TE.
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) May 22, 2019
Bear Report’s Zack Pearson takes note that the Chicago Bears’ updated roster for OTA lists Bradley Sowell as a tight end and Taquan Mizzell Sr. as a wide receiver. That’s quite interesting, especially since Sowell was a reserve offensive lineman last season, while Mizzell was a running back.
And as if Mitch Trubisky didn’t have enough pass-catching options to target, it is also worth noting that both hauled in receiving touchdowns in 2018:
— NFL (@NFL) November 22, 2018
Bet you didn't see this one coming. Or maybe you did. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 10, 2018
Yep! That happened last year. But let’s take a moment to discuss what these potential position swaps mean for the 2019 team.
Sowell’s move to tight end is a layered one. The Bears added a handful of tight ends via the post-draft rush of undrafted free agents, and injecting Sowell into the mix only adds to the competition to a position group that needs depth and production. It hints at the offense prioritizing blocking from the “Y” tight end position, something that wasn’t always there last year as both Adam Shaheen and Dion Sims (the two “Y” tight ends at the top of the depth chart last year) missed time with injuries in 2018. Adding a proven blocker (one with good hands in the red zone) could prove to be a heady move to help protect Trubisky in certain situations.
And while blocking is on our mind, it’s possible that Sowell shifting to tight end means the Bears like what they have in some of their developmental offensive line projects. It was around this time last year when Rashaad Coward transitioned from being a defensive lineman into an offensive lineman. Coward was expected to get a look at guard, and he still might. But it’s possible that moving Sowell out of a swing tackle position opens up that spot for Coward, undrafted free agent rookie Alex Bars, or any number of reserve Bears offensive linemen.
As for Mizzell, his position switch leads him from one crowded group to another. Mizzell had been listed as a running back since the team picked him up on waivers in 2017, but it might make more sense for him to make the move to receiver at this time. After all, he played more receiving snaps (46) than run snaps (10) last season. And with David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Mike Davis, and Kerrith Whyte Jr. ahead of Mizzell on the running back depth chart, he was going to be in for a challenge to crack that group. Then again, breaking through this group of receivers isn’t going to be any easier. Mizzell must contend with the likes of Riley Ridley, Marvin Hall, Javon Wims, and Tanner Gentry on the back end of the depth chart before he even gets to the likes of starters Allen Robinson II, Taylor Gabriel, and Anthony Miller.
In both cases, it’s worth pointing out that both players who were slid into new positions on the roster have up-hill climbs to ensure a spot on the season-opening 53-man roster. Perhaps it’s not a good sign that Sowell or Mizzell were moved at this point of the offseason. But because there are still 106 days until the season starts, there is plenty of time for both players to make their case for inclusion.
But still … let’s keep a close eye on this newly developing situation.