The NFL Draft is approaching quickly, and most fans of the Cincinnati Bengals have an idea who they want the team to take, and who they think the team should take. Nearly every position seems to be open for improvement or just needing depth. One spot that is rarely mentioned, however, is tight end. It seems to be the one roster spot that won’t be addressed in next month’s draft. Should Cincinnati be complacent at the position, though?
Jermaine Gresham is the starting TE for the Bengals and has been to the Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons, averaging over 50 receptions and 600 yards over his three years, adding five TDs per season. His size make him a difficult matchup, and he makes a nice target in the red zone and on third down. A former first round pick, he came into the league highly touted for his athleticism and play-making ability. The main concern was whether he was durable enough for the rigors of an NFL season, having had a serious knee injury. The Bengals used the 21st overall pick to bring Gresham in, where he took the starting role quickly.
While Gresham has made some tremendous plays and shown flashes of being an elite TE, he has also had his fair share of struggles which have turned many fans against him. He seems to have trouble catching balls that are thrown high, often failing to get his hands up fast enough, leading to a lot of drops. This problem has reared its head in some big games, including playoff games. Fumbles have been an issue as well, as he doesn’t always protect the ball, coughing it up while trying to gain yards. Speed, something he was lauded for coming out of college, hasn’t been there at times either. Fans have begun to grumble about his play, and many consider him very replaceable, even after back-to-back Pro Bowls.
Gresham goes into the 2013 season looking to play well enough to garner a big contract as his rookie deal runs out. It appears that the Bengals still have faith in him, but fans are running out of patience. If he has another year filled with inconsistent play and failings in big moments, he will face even more scorn. If he comes into the season motivated, which can happen in contract years, and plays well, the Bengals look smart for sticking by him. Cincinnati will give him every chance to lock down the TE spot for years to come, he just needs to get his hands up quickly enough to grab it.