Drew Sample has to make the most of his opportunity this season

The Bengals roster is packed with players that have yet to show their full potential. Tight end Drew Sample is one of the many guys that fall under that category. 

The Bengals selected him in the second-round (52nd overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft. The move was widely criticized, as the former Washington Husky was projected to go later in the draft. 

Last year didn’t go as planned. An ankle injury kept Sample from making an impact on the field. He appeared in nine games and was only targeted six times. He did finish with five receptions for 30 yards. 

Sample spent the offseason training with defensive end Sam Hubbard. The second-year tight end has a chance to silence his critics this season. 

He should get plenty of opportunities with the departure of Tyler Eifert. He’s an excellent blocking tight end, but also has enough athletic ability to make him a valuable asset in the passing game.

“Just more opportunities this year,” Sample said last month when asked about a big play he made in practice. “Just trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get. Maybe I wouldn’t have read the defense the same way as I did last year because I just have that better feel for the offense. It’s hard to say, but I think I can. I think I can make plays in the pass game. This year it’s about doing it.”

Expect to see him lined up on the line of scrimmage frequently this season. He’ll also be used out wide as a pass catching option. He’ll have a much a larger role in this offense and could even get some extra snaps away from C.J. Uzomah.

Looking back at his college days, he showed that not only he could block exceptionally well, but he’s also capable in the passing game. Sample has strong hands. He pulled down some tough contested catches on multiple occasions at Washington. He doesn’t have great ability after the catch. He isn’t too creative in space and lacks the quickness to cause missed tackles, but in this offense with Joe Burrow, he can still be a valuable asset through the air.

In the blocking game, Sample is technically sound. He is solid at the point of attack and has the strength to control defenders. He appears to be very intelligent in terms of football IQ, and shouldn’t have any trouble adjusting to this new style Bengals offense.

Sample needs to step up for the Bengals this season. They’re hoping the former second-rounder can make an impact. If he can stay healthy, then’ll he’ll get plenty of chances to prove himself.

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