Bengals Director of College Scouting Mike Potts Details Injury Evaluation Process With Erick All

The Bengals hadn't drafted a tight end since 2019 before selecting Erick All in the fourth round and Tanner Hudson in the sixth last weekend.

CINCINNATI – After going 1,828 days without drafting a tight end, the Cincinnati Bengals picked two of them Saturday.

The selections of Erick All in the fourth round and Tanner McLachlan in the sixth came five years and one day after the Bengals made Drew Sample the second pick of the Zac Taylor era.

Bengals End Tight End Drought With Double Dip

Cincinnati director of college scouting Mike Potts said he thinks the team got a pair of steals by taking both players later than where they had them graded, completing the pre-draft mission of adding to a thin position group, where only Sample is signed beyond 2024.

“We’ve got some guys that we like on the current roster, but that’s something we wanted to address and add depth to that tight end room,” Potts said. “And we’re really glad that we came out of the draft with those two guys.”

Though All technically arrives in Cincinnati from Iowa, he spent four years playing at Michigan, which means a handful of players on the roster are well aware of who he is as a player and a person.

One of them, cornerback DJ Turner II, called All a first-round talent Monday while speaking with reporters as the Bengals kicked off Week 3 of the offseason program.

But the biggest issue with All is his injury history, which includes back surgery in Oct. 2022 and an ACL tear in Oct. 2023.

Potts said the team doctors put a medical grade on each prospect at the Combine, and the scouts piece that together with their numerical grade derived from their visits with the player’s trainers and coaches during the fall.

“At the end of the day you have to put a value on it, and we think his tape is probably better than a guy you can get in the fourth round,” Potts said. “The other thing that we factor in is the intangibles — the makeup, the drive, the toughness, the work ethic of these guys. Their character makeup.

“Not every guy that is, let’s say a ‘C’ medical grade, is the same,” Potts continued. “Some guys don’t have as strong of work habits to rehab and really come back from a serious injury like the back. Some guys don’t love football as much. They’re not as motivated to get back out there and maybe beat their timeline on the injury.”

With All’s injury combined with the fact that Mike Gesicki and Tanner Hudson are on one-year contracts, the Bengals wanted to double down at tight end.

But the selection of McLachlan with their first of two sixth-round picks was something that would have happened regardless of any outside variables.

“It helps having Tanner come in with not necessarily knowing what Erick’s timeline will be coming back, but the main factor for drafting Tanner was he was the best player on our board,” Potts said. “We thought he could have gone a lot higher than the sixth round. So that was really the main factor; he was just sticking out on our board.”

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah had McLachlan as his No. 68 prospect overall.

“He’s an explosive athlete, great hands, great separator as a route runner,” Potts said. “And we think he’s got some upside as a blocker as well.”

If All is healthy enough to compete in training camp, the Bengals may have a tough decision to make on cutdown day.

Since at least 2006, they have never kept more than four tight ends on their initial 53-man roster. If All practices once in camp, he will be ineligible for the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Waiving All or Hudson would expose them to waivers before the team could re-sign them to the practice squad. Because of that, the odd man out could be Hudson, who did not garner a lot of offers in free agency before re-signing in Cincinnati.

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