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With the 157th-overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals grabbed their second tight end of the draft, Auburn's C.J. Uzomah.
Though few scouting services had Uzomah pegged as a draftable prospect, the Bengals liked what they saw in the 6'5", 264-pound athletic pass-catcher. He had 29 career receptions for 435 yards and seven touchdowns during his four-year career at Auburn. Uzomah was primarily a blocking tight end in Auburn's offense, which rarely featured tight ends, but he did catch six touchdowns during his final two college seasons.
After playing in the Medal of Honor All-Star game, Uzomah was invited to participate in the Senior Bowl, which helped him catch the eye of Bengals scouts. Though Cincinnati would draft Rutgers tight end Tyler Kroft in the third round of that same draft, they liked Uzomah enough to spend a fifth-round pick on him.
A big reason why the Bengals liked him was they viewed him as a replacement for what guys like Alex Smith, Kevin Brock and Reggie Kelly gave them as blocking tight ends. Cincinnati uses either a blocking tight end or an extra offensive tackle in many of their formations, and with only Kroft and Tyler Eifert being viable options, they needed a guy like Uzomah to come in and give them another body that could block, maybe catch a few passes and possibly be a good red-zone target:
Here's a nice C.J. Uzomah backshoulder catch from Josh Johnson. https://t.co/mTsHMF5C24— Brennen Warner (@BrennenWarner) August 12, 2015
As it turned out, Uzomah would earn a spot on the 53-man roster, despite catching just two passes for 13 yards in the preseason. His most memorable play was more of a gaffe after he dropped what looked like a sure touchdown pass from Keith Wenning.
Maybe not entirely his fault, but not a good impression from Uzomah. https://t.co/7ydbeUN6w4— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 15, 2015
As for the regular season, Uzomah caught one pass for four yards that converted a fourth-down attempt against the Cleveland Browns.
C.J. Uzomah with his first career reception, converting a fourth down. https://t.co/YxXKEHtva9— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) December 6, 2015
Other than that, Uzomah got occasional snaps as a blocking tight end and even a backup h-back. He didn't fair too well in the h-back role though, which prompted the Bengals to move rookie lineman Jake Fisher to h-back when Ryan Hewitt went down with an injury against the Broncos in Week 16.
In the end, Uzomah showed flashes of being a good blocking tight end, but not enough so that his spot on next year's roster is locked up. Don't forget about Matt Lengel who was on the practice squad either. He was also the kind of blocking end the Bengals would like to have, and for now, I expect those two to compete for the third tight end spot on next year's team.