The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t used a traditional fullback in a couple of years, but with a re-emphasis on the running game, they might be keeping their options open. Could undrafted rookie Darrin Laufasa make enough of a splash to secure a spot on the Bengals’ 53-man roster in 2017?
Weight: 235 pounds
College: University of Texas—El Paso
Hometown: Seattle, WA
As an undrafted free agent, Laufasa signed a three-year, $1.665 million deal with the Bengals. His 2017 salary is $465,000 with the same amount being the salary cap hit, per Over The Cap.
While he was a valued member of the UTEP football team, Laufasa only played 12 games in a season once in four years with the Miners. And while he showed versatility in college, he only suited up for five games in 2016, garnering three rushing attempts and three catches last season.
Laufasa showed prowess as a blocker, but also contributed to the offense in other factors from 2013-2016. In his collegiate career, Laufasa had 76 carries for 369 yards and four touchdowns and 26 catches for 153 yards and two more touchdowns.
In 2016, he was exclusively used as a blocker that helped pave the way for Aaron Jones to rush for a single-season program-record 1,773 yards, while Jones also became UTEP’s all-time leading rusher. Most draft sites didn’t give Laufasa a pre-draft grade showing he was worth using a pick on this spring, but most in-line fullbacks fall into that category.
The Bengals signed H-Back Ryan Hewitt to a lucrative deal last summer, which was a three-year, $7.5 million deal. While the deal was deserved, the usage of him last year, or lack thereof, brought questions as to why the team struck the deal.
Even so, Hewitt seems to be the guy the Bengals will be relying on as a lead blocker in the running game and as the occasional passing outlet for Andy Dalton. Unless Hewitt gets injured, or Laufasa completely wows the staff in the remainder of the preseason, it’s unlikely the veteran gets unseated for his job.
Still, Laufasa seems to be a worthwhile project for the practice squad.
Roster Odds: 2 percent.