The Bengals selected Jermaine Gresham with their first round selection in 2010. Gresham came from Oklahoma where he had a monstrous 2008 season recording 950 receiving yards and 14 receiving touchdowns from 66 receptions at an average of 14.4 yards per catch. Gresham at 6’5”, 260 lbs. was a mismatch for any defensive player. He was too fast for most linebackers and safeties and too big for most cornerbacks. Unfortunately for Gresham, he suffered a knee injury in 2009 that cost him the entire season.
Luckily for the Bengals and for Gresham, that knee injury hasn’t come back to bother him and he continues his success on the professional level. He is still a tough match up for any defensive back, he continues to showcase his great hands, and he is becoming a better blocker as well. Gresham continues to develop into a complete tight end. It has been quite some time since the Bengals have had this big of a threat at the tight end position, and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden will be continuing to implement Gresham into his game plan each week.
Gresham came into his own last season in Cincinnati’s new-look west coast offense. With first year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden calling the shots, and rookie quarterback Andy Dalton under center, it seemed like an unlikely time for Gresham to flourish. Overcoming all obstacles, such as a shortened off-season and a new playbook, Gresham played in 14 games, recording 56 receptions for 596 yards and 6 touchdowns at 10.6 yards per reception. This was done with rookies all around him, and no Jordan Shipley to help him out underneath.
Many NFL pundits, analysts, writers, and fans are predicting a breakout season for Gresham this year. He is in his third NFL season and now his second with the same system and quarterback. He finally has stability all around him on the Bengals offense and should see plenty of looks in the red zone this season. With Shipley back in the slot position as well, this should open up more doors for Gresham in the passing game. He will finally be able to stretch the field over the middle, as he will not be relied on as much in the short to intermediate passing game. This year, he will be utilized to all of his strengths and should be a dominant force on Cincinnati’s offense.
Gresham is only 24 years old. He has plenty of time ahead of him to learn the game the way it is played on the professional level. He has time to solidify his fundamentals and keep improving upon all aspects of his game. He certainly has the physicality to get it done, and he has a long time ahead of him in the NFL. Don’t expect Gresham’s trip to the Pro Bowl in 2011 to be his last one.