You don't get that same sensation when eating crow as you do biting into that juicy cheeseburger with a mountain of bacon. Much of the offseason, while discussions about the NFL draft started heating up, I argued that the Bengals won't and shouldn't draft a Tight End in the first round. For one, I was a student in the theory that the pick would be wasted because the Bengals haven't historically used the Tight End in the passing game. Sure, they really haven't had the talent to utilize the position, but at the same time, the Bengals haven't sought that type of player either during Marvin Lewis' tenure.
But times have also changed.
So why would the Bengals use their first round pick on a position when the most receptions by a Tight End was Reggie Kelly's 31 in 2008?
Since Carson Palmer took over as the team's quarterback in 2004, the Bengals used a lot of three-wide receiver formations in the passing game. For the most part, it was their working philosophy. After the potent offense started slowing, going from a fifth ranked 238.8 yards passing per game average to 26th in 2009 averaging 180.6 yards passing per game, the team realized that to succeed in this league, that a working passing offense would need to be a factor. It doesn't have to be dominating. It doesn't have to be Colts-like or Saints-crazy. It just has to compliment the team's rushing offense.
Answering the question means that you have to take everything you think you know and throw it out the window. The 2009, and thus the 2010, Cincinnati Bengals offense isn't that 2005 squad that witnessed three wide receivers threatening to score from any spot on the field. This squad is a physical group that will pound the football at you. And when they've done that, they'll just pound you again, and again, and again.
The addition of Jermaine Gresham does make sense. With Gresham, the Bengals can stretch the middle of the field and Palmer can hit a target in traffic on a critical third and short. With the addition of Gresham, the Bengals could be afforded an opportunity where predictability slowly fades away. Think about this. The Bengals line up double Tight End formation with Gresham and Chase Coffman at the ends and Chad Ochocinco and Antonio Bryant flanking them. Essentially Palmer will have four options on any play. And since the formation is also a run formation, the team can simply hand the football off to Cedric Benson for a sure four or five yards. What are you going to do defense? You have four guys you need to cover with Benson foaming at the mouth to hand out some awesome punishment.
True, at first I didn't like the pick for the reasons stated earlier. I never had anything against the man. He's rated far and above as the best Tight End coming into the NFL Draft this year. And honestly, if you're going to draft a position, why not the best in the draft? No, Gresham was never the problem with me.
But as I thought about it, it came down to Dez Bryant and Gresham. I asked myself, if Bryant were already gone, would Gresham have been the best available for this team? In that context, I would argue yes. Sure, building the defense with Taylor Mays would have been nice. But from my understanding, Mays is a younger version of Roy Williams and Chinedum Ndukwe -- hard hitters that don't making wrapping the ball carrier that much of a priority. Mays is also still available; who knows what can happen on Friday with the second and third rounds.
No, I didn't like the team drafting a Tight End at first. In fact, I still have some reservation. However, the Bengals did draft the best Tight End available and it obviously addressed a position that was clearly short on talent and personnel. And if you compare Gresham and Dez Bryant, perhaps, just perhaps, my crow eating butt agrees that Gresham is the better fit.