It’s easy to be mystified by the Bengals passing up on WR Dez Bryant for TE Jermaine Gresham. I mean, c’mon: a wide receiver with some character flags but was considered to have the most talent in the draft? I about fell over when we passed over him. That’s the perfect maelstrom for the Bengals (and it was again in the second round, more on that later). Look at all the players with character issues that we have either drafted or signed in the past five years: Chris Henry, Odell Thurman, Cedric Benson, Matt Jones, and Bernard Scott. Some of these guys did pan out; others fell off the bandwagon (too soon?).
I can’t get over the fact that we passed over the supposed best receiver in the draft when the Bengals struggled last year with receivers getting open. I mean, I know we signed Antonio Bryant, but why wouldn’t you want to add to your receiving corps?
But! (and that’s a huge "but." (ha ha, I said "huge ‘but’"))
The more I think about it, the more I like getting Gresham over Bryant. I know, I know, this totally after the fact and now I’m just trying to think of ways to rationalize this pick so I can retain my "Bengals Homer" status. Whatever. Here are some reasons the Bengals chose Gresham over Bryant. (BTW, the Bengals did mull over this decision for quite some time so it’s not like these reasons are a slam dunk, but there are reasons, believe it or not).
1. Best tight end vs. best wide receiver? You go for the greater need, and the greater need was tight end. Some people say that if Gresham hadn’t been injured last season, he would’ve been a top ten talent. Bryant is also considered a top ten talent, but, once again, the Bengals could’ve gone through the whole draft without picking a wide-out, and they would’ve been okay. If they had done that with the tight end? Not so much. We have "Sucky McSucksters" (a.k.a. Daniel Coats), unproven talent Chase Coffman who still needs to learn how to block, another guy I don’t know his name and probably sucks anyway, and then two guys (Reggie Kelly and J.P. Foschi) who have yet to resign with the Bengals. Tight end wins here.
2. The character issue may actually have been a factor. That’s really hard for me to write, considering we picked a guy with a character issue in the very next round (Carlos Dunlap, once again, more on that later), but if you have two ultra talented guys to choose from, and one has character issues, and the other doesn’t, it shouldn’t be hard to choose. Granted, the character issues with Bryant, to me at least, seem ridiculously petty (lying about having dinner with Deion Sanders, oh no! Hide the kids and your 20-year-old college daughter!). But then you refer back to my number one reason and then it makes the decision easier.
3. Impact of Gresham vs. Impact of Bryant. This one is all speculation on my part here, but if you’re in the redzone, who would you rather have? 6′6″ tight end matched up against a slower linebacker, or a 6′2″ wide receiver… who caught 19 touchdowns in 2008. Damn it! I was going to make a great argument there. I really was. I looked up Bryant’s stats write in the middle of writing that sentence. Damn damn damn. But a 6′6″ guy with soft hands in the end zone? I don’t know, I’ll take that. We haven’t had anyone like that on the Bengals roster in probably its entire existence, so I’ll take Gresham.
In addition to the Gresham pick – which you can debate all day and it could go either way until the 2010 season ends when you see the actual impact from both players – the Bengals had a stellar draft. Here are the Bengals other picks.
Round 2: DE Carlos Dunlap. First round talent. Second round character issues. The dude was caught drunkenly passed out at the wheel the night before the SEC championship game. Sigh… Hey, the Bengals need to improve their pass rush, and they got a guy who’s 6′6″ 277 lbs and was first-team all SEC with 19.5 sacks over his three-year career at Florida. But he does lack consistency. Hey, that’s why he was available in the second round. Now the Bengals need to make sure he stays motivated. I like the pick; it should improve our D.
Round 3a: WR Jordan Shipley. I am a little disappointed in not drafting Mardy Gilyard. Okay, I am very disappointed. But Shipley has been a very productive WR at Texas, and the coaches see him as an inside reciever like Whosyourmama was for us a couple years ago. And he can play outside slot too, and he return kicks and such (but couldn’t Gilyard have done those things too? Sigh). So I guess I like this pick. He’s a good receiver, which is good, but he’s not Gilyard, which is bad. As long as he produces I’ll be all right with it.
Round 3b: CB Brandon Ghee. The dude is fast (4.4 speed) and he had 25 pass break ups over 33 games started, but he only had one interception, something which the coaches will work on with him. People are saying that this guy might be an eventual replacement for Jonathon Joseph because his contract is up after this year, and it might be difficult to keep two all-star cornerbacks, but I think the Bengals need to try really, really hard to keep both Leon Hall and Joseph together. I mean, a great cornerback tandem like that helps a defense out tremendously, allowing the pass rushers more time to get to the QB. We’ll see what happens.
Overall I am happy with our draft. I can’t say I’m not a little disappointed with some of the picks, but I think those choices were for good reasons. The ultimate judge of these picks, however, will be seen on the field in 2010. As long as the Bengals continue to win, that’s all that matters.
Follow David Jacob at http://twitter.com/HoldenCarraway and at bengals.gearupforsports.com