While the Cincinnati Bengals don’t have a pressing need at tight end, it will be one of the more intriguing positions to watch this offseason, and part of that is seeing if Mason Schreck has anything to offer.
Despite having a full complement of tight ends on the roster, the Bengals still took another one in the 2017 draft. After all, injuries decimated that position throughout 2016, highlighted by Tyler Eifert missing eight games due to back and ankle injuries. C.J. Uzomah missed time due to a calf injury, while Tyler Kroft was sidelined for most of training camp and the preseason with a knee sprain.
That was part of why the Bengals used their final draft selection on a tight end in 2016. The 251st-overall pick in Round 7, Schreck wasn’t projected as a draftable prospect by any major service, but he certainly had his moments in college.
Schreck was a productive pass-catcher in the MAC, earning all-conference honors last season after catching 59 passes for 651 yards and four touchdowns as a first-year starter. But putting up respectable numbers in the MAC is a whole different ballgame than the NFL, and it was painfully evident Schreck wasn’t ready for the pros.
Throughout training camp and the preseason, Schreck struggled just to catch on-target passes. He was also a poor blocker and had trouble getting himself open. He was so bad that there wasn’t any question he was getting cut going into final cuts, and there was doubt as to whether he’d even get a spot on the practice squad. He also caught just one pass for seven years in three preseason games.
Then, an MCL injury led to Schreck being placed on injured reserve following the third preseason game. That’s where he spent his entire rookie season, and now, he’s part of the 90-man offseason roster.
Going forward, Schreck will get a chance to compete for a backup tight end spot in 2018 if Tyler Eifert is allowed to leave in free agency. Even so, the Bengals still have Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah and h-backs Cethan Carter and Ryan Hewitt.
That will make it hard for Schreck to earn a spot on the final roster, even if Eifert isn’t re-signed. But if Schreck can show enough improvement and continue developing on the practice squad, he could get a golden oppurtunity to make the roster in 2019. That’s when Kroft and Uzomah are currently slated to become free agents, though the Bengals are working to extend Kroft this year.
If Eifert is re-signed, I think it’s all but guaranteed Schreck won’t make the final roster in 2018. He just hasn’t shown anything to suggest he’s better than Kroft, C.J. Uzomah, Carter or Hewitt, so a spot on the practice squad appears to be Schreck’s best hope of remaining with the Bengals this year.