Established starter at Tight End
After tight end Hayden Hurst traded in his stripes for the panther print of Carolina, the Bengals need an established starter at the tight end position. The team has a few guys looking to be the main option at the position, including Drew Sample, Devin Asiasi, and Irv Smith Jr., but none have established themselves as full-time starters during their time in the league.
Smith, who started only one game in 2022 for the Vikings before his ankle injury in Week 8 landed him on injured reserve, showed promise as a former second-round pick. In his three years in Minnesota, Smith showed glimpses of what made him a former second-round selection. However, he did not cement himself as the starter.
Asiasi started three games as a rookie for the Patriots but he played in only 10 games in two years before coming to Cincinnati last season. In 22 games played, he has, for his career, 11 targets, four receptions, and one touchdown.
Drew Sample is the most established tight end on the roster with 44 games played, 25 starts, 58 catches for 458 yards, and one touchdown.
Moreover, with all the talk surrounding the position this offseason, one aspect that was consistently overlooked was if the tight end being talked about was a suitable pass blocker. The combination of pass protector, run blocker, and pass catcher is rare. The Bengals had their chance to select players in the draft who fit that profile but elected to go in a different direction.
Let’s hope one of the six tight ends on the roster proves to be the answer for this year and beyond. Only undrafted rookie free agent Christian Trahan is under contract beyond this season.