Remember when the Cincinnati Bengals set themselves up for their long-term future along the defensive line by allocating their top two draft picks to addressing the offensive tackle position? Remember when that pretty much didn’t work out at all?
Apparently one of those two tackles is now about to try his hands at another position. 2015 second-round pick Jake Fisher is working on slimming down and trying his hands at tight end, and there seem to be teams interested in working him out once he hits unrestricted free agency next week.
Fisher was the 53rd-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out or Oregon, drafted a round after the Bengals also selected Cedric Ogbuehi, who has flamed out at both right and left tackle during his four-year career. Fisher started 12 of 48 games played, the majority coming in 2017 when he started seven of eight games.
Ian Rapoport reported via Twitter recently that Fisher, listed at 305 pounds as a 6’6” lineman, is down to 285 pounds, though there’s no word on if he has been able to grow an inch or two. Rapoport also wrote that he has “been running routes with current NFL QBs” out in California, though he doesn’t name the quarterbacks.
An interesting name to watch for free agency: #Bengals OT Jake Fisher is down to 285 pounds as he reinvents himself as a blocking tight end, I’m told. He’s been running routes with current NFL QBs in Cali this offseason. Teams are intrigued and wanting to work him out.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) 2 март 2019 г.
Coincidentally, the Baltimore Ravens recently had a player take the opposite approach. Former tight end Crockett Gillmore was said to have put on 40 pounds after recovering from a torn MCL in 2017 in an effort to convert to the offensive line. However, he never found a team for 2018 and remains a free agent. I’m kind of surprised he’s not in the Alliance of American Football, now that I think about it.
As for Ogbuehi, he spent most of the 2018 season in street clothes as a game day inactive. The Bengals brought in Cordy Glenn via trade to start at left tackle while Bobby Hart won the right tackle job, and Fisher was the swing tackle.
Ogbuehi said at the end of last season that he accepted the “bust” label but that he was ready to move on and to try to prove everybody wrong about what he is capable of doing as a player—on another team. After all, the Bengals wouldn’t want him back anyway.
Transitioning from one position to another is difficult in the NFL, even between similar positions. Few cornerbacks can be above average safeties. Few tackles can be above average guards. Few inside linebackers can play on the edge efficiently.
Will Fisher be one of the rare success stories? Gillmore didn’t—or at least hasn’t—have any luck making the opposite switch, but you never know. I will be curious to hear about the aftermath once he starts to take some workouts as a free agent.