The Bengals took tight end Jermaine Gresham with the 21st overall pick in 2010, 21 picks before the Patriots picked another tight end in the second round.
That was Rob Gronkowski, of course, and he has become one of the standard bearers at the position. That means guys like Gresham and the men who coach them face questions about whether or not they can be as productive as Gronkowski was in 2011. Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden got just such a question and he indicated he believes Gresham is capable of that kind of impact.
“Athletically and talent-wise, yes,” Gruden said, via Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He’s comparable.”
Gruden was careful to point out that Gronkowski is ahead of Gresham when it comes to reading defenses and that Gresham’s got blocking responsibilities in addition to his work as a receiver, but he does think Gresham can have a similar impact on offense. Without a clear-cut No. 2 receiver across from A.J. Green, Gresham could wind up playing that role in the Cincinnati offense this year. That might not mean Gronkowski-type numbers, but it would help the Bengals win.
Before any of that can happen, Gresham needs to get healthy. He’s been out with a sprained knee since the second preseason game and he won’t be putting up any of the numbers we’ve been talking about with a bum wheel in the regular season.