The Bengals love having a tight end who's specialty is more blocking than actually catching passes. C.J. Uzomah could fill that role in 2015.
Cincinnati selected Uzomah in the fifth round of this year's NFL draft. The 264-pound tight end had 29 career receptions for 435 yards and seven touchdowns during his four-year career at Auburn. Despite limited college production, Uzomah was a standout performer in OTAs who consistently drew praise from coaches and media. Geoff Hobson not only gave him a strong endorsement, but sees Uzomah making the final 53-man roster.
In an interview with Dan Hoard at Bengals.com, Uzomah talked about adjusting to the NFL and how he's excited to prove his worth on the team.
"I’m really anxious to show the coaches what I’ve got," said Uzomah. "They took a chance on me not being a traditional tight end. They said, ‘You’re going to have to prove yourself as a blocker and prove that you’re physical enough to do this.’ I’m getting chills right now just thinking about proving to them that the interest and the investment that they’ve given to me is going to be worth it."
In 2014, Uzomah caught just 11 passes for 145 yards (13.2 avg.) and three scores at Auburn. This came after a junior campaign with extremely similar numbers, in which he caught 11 balls for 154 yards (14.0 avg.) and three scores. He won't be asked to do much in the passing game behind Tyler Eifert and potentially third-round rookie Tyler Kroft.
Uzomah knows he's got a lot of work to do before he's ready to make an impact in the NFL, but he's confident he'll do so with the help of his coaches and fellow teammates:
"The main thing is just putting my hand down on the ground and getting out of my stance," said Uzomah. "Getting comfortable in my three-point stance and not having my base too wide so that I don’t false step. That is something that I have to continue to work on. I wasn’t really a tight end per se at Auburn and didn’t have a traditional tight end coach. (H-back) Ryan Hewitt has really helped me with trying to block out of a three-point stance and getting off of press coverage and things of that nature. I think that’s the biggest ‘whoa, this is a lot harder than it looks’ kind of thing."
As of now, Uzomah is competing with former practice squad tight end Jake Murphy and undrafted free agent Matt Lengel for the final spots at the tight end position on the 53-man roster. Even after a good showing in OTAs, Uzomah has to keep it up in training camp and through the preseason to secure his roster spot in 2015. That said, Uzomah is clearly on the right track to not only make the final roster, but also make a positive impact for the Bengals this season.