The AFC North is a bad-weather division in the NFL, and the Cincinnati Bengals had that in mind when they easily made one of the most jaw-dropping selections on the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Many draft analysts had Newport of Bellevue product Drew Sample rated as a third-day player. But the Bengals did not let the University of Washington tight end wait that long, picking Sample in the second round Friday – with the 52nd overall selection.
It was a selection of need, no doubt, as the Bengals ranked in the lower third of the NFL in tight-end production in the passing game last season.
Sample will not only catch passes, but with his hockey background, he is one of the better blocking tight ends in the draft.
“His reputation is a physical one,” Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan told Cincinnati-area reporters.
He battled a nagging leg injury during his junior season, then emerged as the team’s top tight end in the passing game in 2018 after Hunter Bryant was lost for an extended period with a knee injury.
Now, Sample joins a tight-end crew with another standout coming off a serious leg injury – Tyler Eifert, who has missed 34 games over the last three seasons.
“I’ve always liked him,” said NFL Draft analyst Rob Rang. “He is a quality all-around tight end in an era where not many guys have the versatility to block, catch and run.”
Sample is the third player from Newport to be drafted into the NFL, joining defensive back Don Ellersick (sixth round in 1960, and whom the high school’s football field is named after) and defensive end Martin Harrison (10th round in 1990).