Some familiar Bears who face longest odds of making the roster
Just when you're getting used to seeing someone in the NFL, they're gone.
It's why Jerry Glanville said NFL stands for Not For Long.
In the NFL final cuts have long been called "The Turk," and it was rather ironic when the Bears had a staffer named Kevin Turks who used to deliver the dreaded message to go players "Go see coach and bring your playbook."
This year there promises to be some upsetting cuts from the standpoint of players who have been a part of the Halas Hall scene for a year or two. They may have even had an impact in last year's fun run to the top of the NFC North.
In fact, it's looking now like seven players who've been around for at least a season are facing long odds of making the team.
No. 7 D-Line Nick Williams
Williams might not seem familiar, but he's been here an entire season. He had two tackles last year and got into two games, yet he was on the 53-man roster all year. He just wasn't active for 14 game days.
When Bilal Nichols stepped forward asnd became a contributing rookie, Williams was only an insurance policy. It would seem unlikely the Bears would even carry as many defensive linemen this year as they did last year, but if they do Williams would be an option as an NFL veteran who has 18 tackles in four past seasons with Miami, Kansas City and the Bears.
No. 6 Running Back Ryan Nall
Nall led the Bears last preseason in rushing, and as a 6-foot-2, 235-pounder he attracted plenty of fans who thought he was a modern day Rick Casares. He didn't make the team but was on the practice squad all year. If Twitter meant anything, he'd have a great shot of playing for the Bears because everyone there seemed to want him on the roster. For Nall, making this team will depend on if he can play fullback, which he hasn't done in the past. And it also depends on whether the Bears even have a use for a fullback in their spread attack because they didn't sign Michael Burton back and only used that position on rare occasion last year.
No. 5 Tight End Bradley Sowell
Last year this would have said tackle Bradley Sowell. He switched to tight end and has lost about 30 pounds, although coach Matt Nagy refused to get specific about the amount during minicamp. Switching positions when there are already three tight ends on the roster, and a handful of undrafted, talented rookies appears to be kind of a career suicide. Sowell thinks he can do it but it would have seemed he'd have a better fit as a second reserve tackle than as a fourth tight end. They might not even carry four of them.
No. 4 Linebacker Josh Woods
He came into the NFL last year as a defensive back trying to convert to linebacker, and weighed only 205 pounds. Woods showed some really solid tackling technique in preseason last year, then went on injured reserve due to a finger injury and no one even remembered they had him. He would fit in as a potential special teams tackler and reserve but there are currently five inside linebackers ahead of him at the very least. It's a difficult situation, but a year on the practice squad would seem the most likely possibility.
No. 3 Defensive Back John Franklin III
He just made the final four in the fastest NFL man competition known as "40 Yards of Gold," after being switched from running back or receiver to defensive back last year. Franklin was on the practice squad last year and needed the time to continue developing because he had been a quarterback and receiver in college at Auburn and Florida Atlantic. His blazing speed — he claimed once to have run a 4.19-second 40 but it was unverified — could be an asset. It wouldn't be surprising to see him moved back over to the offensive side, but at this point he'd take anything to make the 53-man team. Another practice squad season could be the ultimate finish.
No. 2 Wide Receiver Taquan Mizzell
A running back a year ago, he was converted to receiver this offseason. It was a move plenty of Bears fans wouldn't mind because he was one of the least popular Bears, on social media anyway. They gave him the ball as a running back last year and he averaged only 1.8 yards a rush, and actually got a carry and was targeted on a pass in the playoff game. Mizzell was a washout as a kick returner. He averaged only 15.1 yards a return when they badly needed a more effective return man. He did catch eight passes for 78 yards including a key touchdown against the Lions on Thanksgiving. So at least if he's still around, it's doing something he showed an aptitude for in the past.
No. 1 Wide Receiver Tanner Gentry
The darling of fans in the 2017 preseason, Gentry got into four games, made three catches and since then has faded from the picture. He was only on the practice squad last year. His lack of speed and severe job competition from Emanuel Hall, Riley Ridley, Javon Wims and Marvin Hall for one or two roster spots is going to make it extremely difficult for Gentry to get back to the 53-man roster. It's the same tough job competition that faces Mizzell.