On Tuesday, the Bengals had tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes on hand at Iowa State to watch tight end Eric Saubert, per Draft Analyst.
During drills Saubert looked terrific.
He caught every ball thrown and trapped just one pass, though it was a low ball drill. Scouts on hand were impressed with his blocking as Saubert showed much better leg and hip drive.
Saubert actually attended Drake University, but was participating at Iowa State’s pro day as Drake doesn’t have a pro day of its own. At the Combine, Saubert recorded 22 reps on the bench press, a 33.0" vertical jump and a 121" broad jump. He didn't run the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis due to a tweaked hamstring. At his pro day, he reportedly ran it between 4.65-4.69 seconds.
As a redshirt freshman in 2013, Saubert started nine games and was recognized as a first-team All-Pioneer Football League pick. In his sophomore campaign he earned honorable mention all-conference, despite missing three games due to injury. For the last two seasons, he hasn’t missed a game and the honors have continued rolling in, including first-team all-conference and All-American, as well as third-team honors from the Associated Press as a junior and second-team accolades in 2016 as a senior.
In 2016, he had 10 receiving touchdowns, which ranked second among tight ends and averaged 70.5 receiving yards per game. In total, he had 56 receptions for 776 yards, good for 13.9 yards per catch. Saubert also impressed at the Shrine game where he started to gain more recognition from NFL coaches.
CBS Sports ranks Saubert as the 191st best player in the draft and 12th best tight end. That means he’s likely to be a Day 3 pick. The Bengals don’t have a big need at tight end as Tyler Eifert, C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Kroft man the position well. Fullback Ryan Hewitt can fill in as a tight end, as needed, too. But, this isn’t the first tight end the Bengals have been caught scouting, so it seems the team is looking to add talent to the position group.
Here’s a look at part of Saubert’s NFL.com draft profile:
SOURCES TELL US
"He's body beautiful but he can't catch. I don't think it's correctable either. I just think he doesn't see the ball well and doesn't have good hand-eye. You are drafting an athlete and not a tight end if you take him." - AFC regional scout
Tape study is absolutely maddening on Saubert as it roller coasters from eye-popping potential to lapses in concentration and effort as a blocker. Saubert's speed and athleticism will get him open and he should test well at the combine. Teams will have to balance the flashes with the drops and decide how early they want to pull the trigger on a tight end with starter's potential but a low floor.
Defensive back Jomal Wiltz of Iowa State was another name drawing attention at Iowa State’s pro day. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds. In 2015, he notched 41 tackles and 8 pass breakups. He also made an impact on special teams as a kickoff returner, averaging 22.6 yards per return. In 2016, he had 49 tackles and 2 interceptions. He’s not expected to be drafted, but could be someone to watch after the draft wraps up and the Bengals begin signing college free agents.
Click here for a look at the full Iowa State pro day results.