In some ways, folks expected the Bengals to trade back from their No. 42 spot in the second round. Many solid players were left on the board as their time approached, but some were plucked in picks right before theirs, so Zac Taylor and Co. decided to trade back and gain both a fourth-round and sixth-round selection.
Cincinnati went with the big and athletic tight end, Drew Sample from the University of Washington. At 6’5” and 255 pounds, Sample should provide a great red zone weapon for Andy Dalton.
What he brings to the Bengals
Size: As mentioned above, Sample has good size for the position in the NFL. Dalton’s strengths are in the short and intermediate passing game. It’s a big reason as to why Tyler Eifert has had some big numbers with Dalton, when healthy.
The Rams didn’t overly-use tight ends in their offensive system with Taylor, but they were part of the massive production. With Pittsburgh and Cleveland grabbing talented defenders in the early rounds, a big target in the passing game should negate some of those matchup issues.
Upside: After the Bengals made the pick of Sample, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said that teams liked Sample more than what his production would indicate. Sample had just three touchdowns last year, but a lot of folks think his best football is in front of him.
Cincinnati re-signed both Eifert and C.J. Uzomah to varying deals this offseason, but there are questions with both players. Sample is in the fold for the next four years, surpassing both of the deals by those veterans.
Why the Bengals picked Sample
Red zone effectiveness: Cincinnati’s offense needs to score more touchdowns, despite who is under center. When Eifert, Tyler Kroft and A.J. Green were injured last year, Cincinnati only had Uzomah as a big target in those critical short-yardage situations.
Sample is huge, has a nice catch radius and most compare him to Jack Doyle. If Cincinnati gets that kind of production from him out of the second round, while still being able to spread the ball around to other weapons, they will be happy.
Third downs: Given the massive amount of struggles by the Bengals’ defense last year, one would be inclined to think that the Bengals would have gone with defensive line or linebacker in the second round. However, part of the reason why Cincinnati’s defense struggled, aside from poor coaching and injuries, is the ineffectiveness of the 2018 offense.
On many occasions, the Bengals’ offense forced the defense right back on the field after a stop because of ineffectiveness. Methodically moving the chains via big targets like Sample begins to balance the scales without even taking a defensive player.
Uncertainty at the position group: Uzomah and Eifert are athletic and have had moments of greatness, but both have suffered injuries. And, when they’ve missed time, the entire team has felt the impact.
While you don’t want to use a second-round pick on a third rotational option, it seems as if the Bengals have a solid plan for Sample. He is versatile and could even be used as a potential H-Back and nice outlet.
Blocking: Even though the tight end position has evolved in recent years, blocking off of the edge is still at a premium. Sample is known as one of the best blockers in this year’s class.
ESPN's status report on Drew Sample: "He is one of the best blocking tight ends in this class. ... Sample has value as a backup tight end because of his outstanding blocking and ball skills, but he will never be a good starter in the NFL"— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) April 27, 2019