The Cincinnati Bengals tight end position possess a lot of potential, though you’d hardly be able to tell from last year’s results. That is primarily because of the number of games star tight end Tyler Eifert missed not only last year (8) but in the last three years (26) due to injury. Additionally, the Bengals have not been able to get backup tight end Tyler Kroft involved in the passing game as much as they would like. However, Kroft seems to be intent on that changing as soon as possible.
“I want to show that I can do the stuff in the pass game that I know I can do,” Kroft told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s something I think I can show and I’m hopefully showing it.”
The Bengals selected Kroft in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft based on his excellent blocking ability and above average athleticism. However, his struggles in the passing game caused most scouts and analysts to rank him as a Day 3 draft pick. The Bengals, however, valued him more than most and felt they could help him work past his limited catch-radius, poor spatial awareness, and average ball-catching skills. The best way to do that is through practice and repetition, as well as building confidence with his quarterback. In two seasons, Kroft has 21 catches for 221 yards and 1 touchdown. Though Kroft hasn’t done much in the passing game yet, he’s working to change that moving forward.
“Just going to keep trying to build that confidence between Andy and I,” Kroft said. “I think ultimately at the end of the day that’s what this period is. Obviously, we’re not hitting too much and a lot of it is timing and routes and timing throws, or just continuing to build that confidence between those two.”
Chemistry between a quarterback and pass-catcher is crucial to a productive tandem. Luckily, Dalton has been working with Kroft for a couple of years now, allowing plenty of time for the two to develop that chemistry. And though Dalton has only thrown the ball Kroft’s way 26 times in two years, he’s now praising the young tight end while suggesting a few areas he still needs to work on.
“I think his understanding of how to run certain routes has gotten a lot better,” Dalton said. “I think that comes with experience and time. He’s an athletic guy; he can run, so I think just the understanding of how to run certain routes and where exactly he needs to be has gotten a lot better.”
The progress Kroft has shown so far on the practice field seems to be encouraging. But, he’ll need to prove it during training camp and the preseason, especially with C.J. Uzomah also fighting for playing time and a few rookies added into the mix. However, through continued practice with his quarterback and trust built with the coaching staff, he’ll have plenty of opportunity and ability to reach the goals he has set for himself. That’s especially true right now as Eifert is currently not practicing while recovering from back surgery.
“That’s what comes through when we’ve been getting a lot of serious time together the past week,” Kroft said of understanding the Bengals’ offense and his relationship with Dalton. “It’s giving him the confidence I’ll be in the right spot and that I know what I’m doing."