Wonder no more about the Cincinnati Bengals‘ plans at tight end, Drew Sample is here to save the day!
Well, not really.
The Bengals re-signed their second-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft to a one-year deal. As a blocking specialist, Sample is perfectly fine to have on the roster. His lack of receiving ability caps his overall value, and therefore, his standing on the depth chart.
We don’t know the details of Sample’s (likely veteran minimum) contract yet, but Cincinnati’s long-term need at tight end remains the same as it was before he re-signed.
This puts the upcoming Draft back in the spotlight. While this class of tight ends may not be the best we’ve seen in a generation, there are still plenty of quality options for the Bengals to develop between Sample and projected starter Irv Smith Jr.
The A to Z Sports top-300 big board features 13 tight ends with a fifth-round grade or higher, but none that have earned a first-round grade.
With Smith and Sample in the fold, the Bengals are set up to address their long-term need the middle rounds, which is where it’s historically been wise to draft tight ends. It’s often been a difficult position to project, and the best have often been taken after the first round.
The reasons for this:
(a) TEs take forever to develop so often times another team will reap the benefit
(b) We’re **horrible** at predicting which TEs end up being good
— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) April 14, 2023
The Bengals have previously tried to go against the grain, drafting Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert with late first-round picks in 2010 and 2013, respectively.
Both were quality players when healthy, but neither lived up to expectations due to different issues, which only adds strength to the case against drafting the position so early.
It’s a good argument to be made, but if one of Michael Mayer or Dalton Kincaid is available, the Bengals will be very tempted to make either one the 28th pick in the Draft.
If anything, signing Smith and re-signing Sample probably takes the need to double-dip at the position off the table. Adding a promising rookie to create a new trio would more than suffice, and trying to insert another pick into the equation may not work out.
If the board falls a certain way and the chance to add a second tight end presents itself, Sample’s presence will also not prevent that from happening.
Sample is the classic case of a last resort. It’s always nice to know he’s there if you need him, but none of your plans are impacted with him being there. He’ll compete for a roster spot in training camp with the new drafted and undrafted rookies.
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