The tight end position is an interesting one for the Bengals. The team has Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah all returning this season and all healthy to start off the offseason. The Bengals have also liked putting Ryan Hewitt in at tight end from time to time as well.
Bengals’ director of player personnel Duke Tobin may have added a wrinkle to the competition that we may be over looking though. Recently, Tobin joined the Enquirer’s Bengals Beat Podcast and talked about some of the late round picks from the 2017 draft who we haven’t heard much about. He had this to say about seventh round tight end Mason Schreck, who spent the 2017 season on Injured/Reserve:
“So Mason Schreck got hurt and spent the year on IR. We had the good fortune to pay him for the year on IR (laughs). We think he is an ascending player. We think that Mason can really come on. I joke, but we were happy to get the opportunity to work another year with him. He’ll be in the mix this year… He took the year and did what he should have done with the year, which is get himself physically built up another year… He’s going to be a guy that’s pushing for a spot.”
Schreck was a seventh-round selection by the Bengals in 2017, and was viewed as almost an after thought after he got injured prior to the start of the season. That was even more the case when the Bengals and Eifert opted for a one-year deal this offseason. Tobin’s praise of Schreck means he may have a better shot at the final roster than we previously anticipate.
He was a very good receiving tight end coming out of college, but he has plenty to clean up as far as little things go. His blocking was lackluster, and his route running leaves a lot to be desired, but when he runs that seam route, he looks like the kind of guy the Bengals like. He is able to shield off defenders as well as make tough catches.
If Schreck has a good camp that could spell danger for a few Bengals. First, Uzomah is the obvious guy. He had plenty of opportunities to shine last year with Eifert being out for most of the season, but he ended with a very disappointing 10 catches for 92 yards. If Uzomah struggles during camp and the preseason maybe Schreck could make the roster over him. The other thing that plays a part there is the fact that Eifert, Kroft and Uzomah’s contracts all expire after next season. The Bengals could view keeping Schreck on the roster as a safety net in case Eifert and Kroft both fly the coop.
Another player who should be worried is Hewitt. At this point we don’t know if Bill Lazor has a role for a fullback type player. Hewitt’s deal still has two-year’s left on it, but if the team parts ways with him they could save a couple million dollars in cap space. With that said, if Lazor decides Hewitt will play enough that he is worth keeping, that is probably the end of that discussion. Hewitt is a great fullback, he just needs to be used.
The final roster spots could be very interesting for the Bengals. The team drafted 11 players, and has a few interesting undrafted free agents coming in. One of those undrafted players is a tight end from UCF, Jordan Franks. He’s 6’4”, 232 pounds and he’ll have a tough road to the roster, but will compete for a spot.
The change in schemes on both sides of the ball could mean we see some serious surprises. One of them could be Schreck forcing his way onto the 53-man roster.