The Cincinnati Bengals entered the 2010 offseason knowing the top priority was to figure out a way to improve last season's 26th-ranked passing game.
While the release of Laveranues Coles and the recent signing of free agent wide receiver Antonio Bryant give Cincinnati a deep threat in the passing game, Carson Palmer could still use another effective weapon to throw to.
With the 21st pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, I selected Oklahoma Sooners tight end Jermaine Gresham. He's arguably the top player at his position in this year's draft and the Bengals could use a pass-catching tight end to help improve the passing game.
Most teams seemed hesitant towards Gresham considering he missed all of 2009 after having surgery on his right knee to repair torn cartilage. Many wondered if his draft stock would slide if the knee injury was still having an effect on his performance.
Instead, Gresham has been nothing short of impressive while working out for interested teams. Not only did he amaze scouts at Oklahoma's Pro Day earlier this week, but Gresham performed well at the NFL Combine as well on his way to a 4.73 40-yard dash time.
The tight end position is an area the Bengals have struggled to stay consistent in over the last couple of seasons. After Reggie Kelly ruptured his Achilles tendon during training camp last season, Cincinnati was hoping for rookie Chase Coffman to step it up at tight end.
Instead, Coffman struggled throughout training camp to make the adjustment from playing at a college level to a professional level—especially when it came to blocking. His rookie season consisted of him inactive for 12 games before eventually being placed on season-ending injury reserve.
Injuries prevented Coffman from living up to the pass-catching tight end the Bengals drafted out of Missouri during his rookie season. If he can find a way to bounce back and become an effective part of the offense in 2010, Palmer may have two solid options at tight end if Cincinnati ends up selecting Gresham with the 21st pick.
In the two seasons prior to his knee injury, Gresham led the Sooners in receiving during the 2008 season. From 2007-08, he finished with 156 catches for 1,664 yards and 20 touchdowns.
The Bengals are an effective passing game away from being considered one of the top teams in the NFL. With a strong defense and a powerful running game led by Cedric Benson, Cincinnati could be one their way to a second-straight AFC North title with an improved wide-receiving core.
Bryant was signed this week to play alongside Ochocinco to use his height and speed to be an effective deep threat in the passing game. With arguably the best pass-catching tight end in Gresham, the Bengals are right where they need to be to improve the passing game for the 2010 season.
With the 22nd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots are on the clock!
17. 49ers-pick-17-trent-williams" target="_blank">49ers Select Trent Williams