In the first round last year, the Cincinnati Bengals used their first round pick on tight end Tyler Eifert. This came as a bit of a surprise as people did not see this coming, especially with Jermaine Gresham on the Bengals roster. However, a lot of people viewed Jermaine Gresham as a player with potential he never fully capitalized on. In the Houston Texans playoff game in 2013, Gresham under-achieved and was viewed as a big reason why the Bengals lost. Many fans just lost their mind on him, along with other players of course. Gresham, once viewed as a very talented player, became public enemy number one to numerous Bengal fans. But was it really necessary?
Jermaine Gresham is the only player on the Bengals team that has caught passes from Carson Palmer and he tied a franchise record for most receptions by a rookie. Not only that, but he joined the likes of Mike Ditka and Keith Jackson as the only tight ends in NFL history to have at least 50 receptions in each of their first 3 seasons. While Gresham has not put up eye-popping numbers, he has remained a valuable asset to the Bengals offense and as a receiving option. While he has had some down games, he has shown that he still has what it takes to be a good player for the Bengals. The only question is, how good?
Jermaine Gresham is poised to have a breakout year for numerous reasons. One: it’s a contract year. He has a chance to make himself quite a bit of money by proving he can reach his potential. He has gotten better each year, as he only had three dropped passes in 2013. Also, while watching the Bengals-Chargers playoff game, Gresham actually came up big in numerous crucial moments. The biggest knack on Gresham isn’t his talent, it’s his inconsistency in big games. In some big games he showed up and gave the Bengals offense the push they needed to score. In others, sadly, he was almost nowhere to be seen, or was seen for the wrong reasons.
Coaching is going to be a huge key for Gresham this upcoming season. With underrated route-running, Gresham could end up thriving within Hue Jackson’s run heavy offense. While he struggles with run blocking, the play action could be a huge advantage that can be used in key situations. Possessing a knack to fight for extra yards, Gresham shows a toughness and nastiness that the Bengals offense needs. When fighting for yards, Gresham either makes a huge play or a disastrous one. If the coaches work on his ball-carrying skills he could very well increase his touches.
Tyler Eifert is a great addition to this team and should definitely see the field, but Gresham is still the number one tight end on the depth chart and has a chance to show why he deserves to stay on this team. It takes players around 4 years to fully develop in the NFL, and Gresham has now reached that milestone. With Dalton improving and the offense having an identity rather than just an offense that tries to do everything, Gresham should expect to see his numbers and productivity increase. Some fans may still view him as a weak link, but Gresham has the ball in his court to prove said fans wrong. Do not be surprised if Gresham puts up big Pro Bowl numbers, because he has a very good chance to do so. This is his year to step into the spotlight and breakout, so watch out for him.
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