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Drew Sample looks to have a versatile role with Bengals in 2023

The fifth-year tight end is back with the team and his role in the team’s offense will be a diverse one.

Zac Taylor’s first draft class as head coach with the Bengals was a mixed bag—and that’s being generous. Third-round linebacker Germaine Pratt has been the most steady in the group (while providing one of the biggest plays in team history back in the 2021 Wild Card round), and first-rounder Jonah Williams has had some nice moments with the club.

Trayveon Williams is one of the other lone roster holdovers from that class, and there are questions about his role as a backup running back this year. Drew Sample is just the fourth of 10 players selected five years ago still on this Cincinnati squad, and he’s looking to be a movable piece in the offense this year.

Drew Sample

  • Height: 6’5”
  • Weight: 255
  • Age: 27 years
  • College: Washington
  • Hometown: Bellevue, WA
  • Experience: Entering fifth season

Cap Status

In the spring of 2023, Sample re-signed with the Bengals on a one-year deal worth a total of $1,232,500. His 2023 cap hit is $1,092,500, with a dead cap number of $77,500 (all per Spotrac).

Background and Outlook

Sample was a bit of a controversial pick in the second round back in 2019, as many felt it was a bit of a reach. But, in looking further at his skill set displayed with the Huskies, things began to make a little more sense.

Unfortunately, the early criticisms have rang true with Sample. Be it an inability to truly grab hold of the starting position or things out of his control like a myriad of injuries, Sample just hasn’t had the impact of a player worthy of a second-round pick. In his previous four years, Sample has 58 catches for 458 yards and one touchdown.

But things could turn around for Sample this year. With renewed health and a role that suits his strengths as a supplemental piece in the offense, Sample could be a quietly valuable guy in the Bengals’ 2023 system.

Remember Ryan Hewitt? He was a player the Bengals moved from tight end to more of a fullback/H-Back role. That’s part of the plan in 2023 for Sample, as he’ll do some lead blocking (a strength of his) and as a passing outlet from the flat.

He’ll also line up in more traditional ways for a tight end, hoping to be a security blanket and chain-mover for Joe Burrow. If he stays healthy (big if) and the plan works out, he could become an unheralded hero for the team in what could be a deep run of a season.

If it doesn’t work out, it’s a low-risk investment for the team, and they move on in 2024.