Tight ends aren't at the forefront of the Cincinnati Bengals offense, but two underrated sleepers at the position could break out in the 2024 NFL season.

The Bengals spent heavily on the position during Day 3 of the NFL Draft. They grabbed Iowa's Erick All in the fourth round and followed up with Arizona's Tanner McLachlan in the sixth. With the door open for a player to step up at this position, All and McLachlan give Bengals' fans room for hope.

Low-draft-pick tight ends aren't lightning rods for fan excitement. But Joe Burrow's injury history might bring the position into focus. The elite signal-caller could look for more short or intermediate routes to avoid sacks that have ravaged his career.

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound McLachlan was a later pick but his intangibles could play well at the sport's highest level. He is a former basketball player with impressive hands. And history tells us a basketball player can become a great tight end. See Antonio Gates.

Bengals TE Tanner McLachlan broke Rob Gronkowski's record

Tenner McLachlan, Cincinnati Bengals
Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It's not exactly a hotbed for NFL talent, but McLachlan made his way from Lethbridge, Alberta, in Canada to Cincinnati.

His first four collegiate seasons were at Southern Utah, but he transferred to the University of Arizona in 2022. He put together a pair of solid seasons for the Wildcats.

McLachlan broke Rob Gronkowski's career record for receptions by a tight end. He finished with 79 while Gronk's total was 75. And when a player finds comparisons with Gates and Gronk, how could he miss?

Some pundits tabbed McLachlan as a higher pick than the sixth round, but his measurables — including his short arms (for a tight end) and lack of elite speed — probably made teams look elsewhere. Still, McLachlan carries a “can-do” rating, and may exceed his draft label.

For now, McLachlan is behind projected starter Mike Gesicki, who signed with the Bengals in March.

Erick All finds home with Bengals

Unfortunately, All's injury history is well documented, including a life-changing surgery when he was at Michigan. That means he enters the NFL with question marks.

The knee injury at Iowa occurred late enough in the college football season to put his NFL rookie season in jeopardy. He may wind up on the Non-Football Injury or Illness list to start the year.

But if he can shake the injury tag, All is considered a solid tight end prospect. He has shown the ability to excel in both the running and passing game, though his blocking ability isn't considered to have elite potential.

As a receiver, his big hands fit his 6-5, 250-pound frame. And he scored high marks in scouting reports for his separation ability.

One thing helping All's outlook is his fourth-round selection. The Bengals spent that pick despite his injury history and questionable availability from the get-go. That means they sized up his athletic makeup, and made the pick based on potential.

Opportunities should be there for All if he's healthy. With Gesicki, Drew Sample and Tanner Hudson in front of him, it's not a stretch to see All battling for a starting spot. Gesicki was solid in 2020 and 2021, but managed less than one yard per route run in each of the last two seasons.

Hudson hauled in 39 passes for 352 yards last year while Sample had just 22 catches for 123. They combined for only three touchdowns.