Bengals: 4 best-kept secrets on Cincinnati’s current roster

Bengals, Darius Phillips
Bengals, Darius Phillips /
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Bengals, Drew Sample
Bengals, Drew Sample Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

4. Drew Sample, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

Drew Sample is never going to be one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He just isn’t a dynamic enough receiving threat nor is he athletic enough to put up All-Pro numbers.

Especially not in a Zac Taylor offense that doesn’t exactly emphasize tight ends.

For that reason, he’s one of the most overlooked players on the Bengals’ roster. He isn’t a star, but he’s an important part of the offense, and he established himself as such in 2020.

A second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Sample played a part-time role in his rookie season and played in just nine games after suffering a season-ending ankle injury in early December.

But he received significantly more playing time the subsequent year following an injury to C.J. Uzomah. And while he didn’t light up the stat sheet, he proved to be a capable contributor.

Sample started 13 of 16 games and finished with 40 catches for 349 yards and one touchdown. Modest production, but where he made his largest contribution was as a blocker.

The former Washington standout was one of the NFL’s best run-blockers as he finished with a Pro Football Focus run-block grade of 72.1, good for seventh in the league.

Sample aided a poor offensive line and oftentimes served as the de facto sixth offensive lineman for the team.

Uzomah will return in 2021, but Sample figures to play a key role once again as the Bengals’ best blocking tight end.

He’s not a glamorous player, but Sample remains one of the more important cogs in Cincinnati’s offense.