When the Bengals spent their second-round pick on tight end Drew Sample out of Washington, it caused some pretty hard backlash. Almost no one thought Sample would even go on the second day of the draft, much less in Round 2.
Now that we have gotten to the point in the offseason where players are actually taking the field, Sample has become a pretty common topic of conversation. Even one of the Bengals best players, wide receiver A.J. Green, told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com that he was impressed.
Not only did Williams run with the ones, but second-rounder Drew Sample got enough snaps for wide receiver A.J. Green himself to observe, “The young tight end looked real good today.”
Green isn’t the kind of guy who throws statements out like that very often. It is a good sign that Sample is already on Green’s radar. It is still very early though in the offseason training process, though. Guys don’t even have pads on yet, so you can still take all of this with a grain of salt if you’d like.
It is noteworthy though that several other reporters have commented on Sample this offseason as well.
Not going to make grand statements from one OTA practice, but I was legit impressed by the hands and routes of Drew Sample today. He very much looked like he belonged. Again, that's one day, but it was a nice start for him.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) May 20, 2019
Hearing that Sample is impressing with his receiving ability really helps ease some of that concern some fans may have had. After all, Sample was billed as one of the better blocking tight ends coming out this season. If he can contribute in the passing game as well, it says a lot about where his future could end up in this league.
Finally, Albert Breer also touched on Sample’s performance during rookie minicamp in the MMQB:
Speaking of tight ends, another guy who stood out at rookie minicamp was Cincinnati second-round pick Drew Sample. Tight end is an important position in the Bengals’ offense, so it would be huge in Zac Taylor’s first year if the team nailed that pick. The staff sees Sample, an outstanding blocker with good receiver skills, playing the role as the traditional ‘Y’ tight end, the same role that Tyler Higbee did in that offense for the Rams. If he’s healthy, Tyler Eifert would then slide into the ‘F’ role as the move tight end, to generate mismatches. And the good news here is that Sample has already shown a pretty good ability to pick up what’s being taught and apply it, which is obviously key to contributing as a rookie.
It’s still way too early for anyone to take any sort of victory lap on Sample. He hasn’t even played an actual down of football yet. However, given how harshly most of us judged the pick initially, it could help calm some of our concerns for now. Sample obviously deserves a fair shot, and if he is already impressing Green, then who am I to say anything negative about him, yet.