Bengals have Last Laugh with Carlos Dunlap, Aaron Hernandez & ’10 NFL Draft

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Jan 1, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end

Rob Gronkowski

(87) and tight end

Aaron Hernandez

(81) watch from the sideline as they take on the Buffalo Bills in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Bill 49-21. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

When it was time for the 2010 NFL draft to begin, the Cincinnati Bengals had one clear need, and that was to find a tight end that could help a middle-of-the-road offense take the next step and become elite. There were many talented TEs that could have helped do such, including Arizona’s Rob Gronkowski, Florida’s Aaron Hernandez, BYU’s Dennis Pitta, Miami’s Jimmy Graham, Iowa’s Tony Moeaki and Oklahoma’s Jermaine Gresham.

The Bengals ultimately went with Gresham, a former All-American who had missed the entire 2009 college football season due to knee injury suffered in preseason practice. This didn’t stop Cincinnati from taking him in the first-round, but up to this point, Gresham has been outplayed by Gronkowski and Hernandez, both of whom went to  the New England Patriots.

Bengals owner Mike Brownwasn’t shy in an interview with FOX Sports about the ’10 draft, in which his team had multiple opportunities to draft Hernandez, but repeatedly passed on the troubled Florida Gator:

"“That one is no secret. We just stayed away from it,” Brown said about Hernandez inside his office at Bengals headquarters. “We didn’t question the playing ability. But we went for Gresham.”"