With the departure of Tyler Eifert, some expected the Bengals to address the tight end position in the 2020 NFL Draft. How soon we forget that the Bengals already addressed the expected loss of Eifert in the 2019 Draft.
With his ability and the opportunity presented to him in 2020, Drew Sample is positioned for a big year in Cincinnati.
Hometown: Bellevue, WA
Experience: two years
Sample is entering the second year of his rookie deal. He is set to make $745,286 this season and has a $1,251,431 cap hit.
The Bengals selected Sample in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He was the second Washington tight end to get drafted in as many years. His former teammate Will Dissly was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Like Dissly, Sample was largely a blocker and was used sparingly in the Huskies’ passing game, but Sample has a much more compelling athletic profile than Dissly. Sample is an excellent blocker, with the physical tools to be productive in the pass game as well.
He came into a talented Bengals tight end group which included Eifert and C.J. Uzomah. The former an established star receiver with limited ability as a blocker and a troubling injury history and the latter a versatile tight end with an athletic profile that is somewhat similar to Sample.
Sample played a limited number of reps (in the teens in most games) early in the season before suffering a season-ending ankle sprain. More opportunities could have arisen for Sample later in the season as the Bengals got their young players more involved (the most notable example being linebacker Germaine Pratt) and started to use multiple tight end formations more often. In fact, at times they would use an extra offensive lineman (Fred Johnson among others) as a tight end.
Combing through the Senior Bowl for a second time... could we see the #Seahawks take a Washington tight end for a second straight year in the draft?— Corbin Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) January 27, 2019
Drew Sample had a really nice day with four receptions, including doing a nice job adjusting to this pass for a 19-yard catch. pic.twitter.com/SwmHZdwpbY
Outlook for 2020
Tight end is one of the most difficult positions to transition to the NFL. Tight ends need to have the physical strength and understanding of blocking assignments to contribute in the run game as well as pass protection. They are also expected to contribute as a receiver, both from an attached, true tight end position, and spread out wide at wide receiver.
Sample is an excellent blocker, which is highly valued by this offensive coaching staff. He is also a very good athlete. With the departure of Tyler Eifert, it is widely expected that Sample will play a larger role with the offense in 2020.
He is an excellent fit for the Bengals offensive scheme. He will be called on to lineup on the line of scrimmage or as an h-back and make key blocks in the run game, but don’t be surprised to see him spread out wide and involved in the pass game in a meaningful way as well.
If he can stay healthy, Sample will have at least 20 receptions, 250 yards, and a couple of touchdowns, but if he can step up and steal reps and targets from Uzomah, he could as much as double those numbers.
Blocking by tight ends in today’s game is a lost art, but Drew Sample is ready to help reinstill that. Here he seals off the edge defender to get Myles Gaskin a big gain. @drewcal is the best blocking tight end in this draft and should be in the conversation as a top tight end! pic.twitter.com/TdkaoAEc7w— Purple Reign Podcast (@purple_reignpod) April 3, 2019
Sample will have no issue making this roster. He could establish himself as a starter at tight end, but even if he doesn’t he will play an important role on offense and he comes at an excellent value.
Roster Odds: 95%