Breaking down the Bengals tight end depth chart after roster cuts

How will the TE position look this year?

Dec 18, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Mitchell Wilcox (84) celebrates
Dec 18, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Mitchell Wilcox (84) celebrates / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals kept three tight ends on their 53-man roster for the 2023 season. It's looked at as one of the weaker positions on the roster but maybe this group will end up surprising people.

The Bengals lost Hayden Hurst to free agency this spring when he jumped ship and headed east to Carolina on a three-year deal. Irv Smith Jr. is Hurst's replacement and while the move could be a good one, Smith is injury-prone, only appearing in 37 games with the Vikings since joining the league in 2019 as a second-round pick.

Let's take a look at how the tight end depth will play out this year.

Bengals TE depth chart

Starter: Irv Smith Jr.

Smith was a second-round pick by the Vikings in the 2019 NFL Draft after playing for the Alabama Crimson Tide for two years. He showed what kind of talent he could be during that 2018 season, racking up 44 catches for 710 yards and seven touchdowns for the Crimson Tide. Unfortunately, he just couldn't stay healthy in Minnesota.

Smith's injury history is a major concern but fortunately for the Bengals, they're not an offense that depends on having a dominant pass-catching tight end. That's what their wide receivers are for.

Backups: Drew Sample and Mitchell Wilcox

If Smith misses time -- which we have to assume is a strong possibility given his injury history -- it'll be Drew Sample and Mitchell Wilcox needing to step up. Sample was also a second-round pick in the 2019 draft and hasn't lived up to the billing. Aside from last year, Sample has stayed healthy but has been more of a pass-catching tight end.

Wilcox hasn't done much offensively during his two years on the Bengals' active roster but he won the TE3 job over the popular Tanner Hudson this summer. That was likely due to his familiarity with the offense.


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This will be how the tight end position looks when the Cincinnati Bengals take the field in Week 1.