CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 2: Jermaine Gresham #84 of the Cincinnati Bengals hauls in a touchdown pass against George Wilson #87 of the Buffalo Bills during their games on October 2, 2011 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Bills 23-20. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
When the Bengals drafted Jermaine Gresham in the first round of the 2010 draft, they knew that they were getting a quality player. They had to have known it, otherwise they wouldn't have made him the only first round pick that they had ever invested in the position in the club's history. While some have expected a bit more out of Gresham, there's no doubt that he has produced and is a major cog in the Bengals' offensive machine. He could be poised for a huge 2012 season.
Today, John Clayton of ESPN released his top-ten list of tight ends in the NFL. And wouldn't you know it? Gresham made Clayton's cut.
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Gresham was already known as a solid player coming into 2011, but making the Pro Bowl (as an alternate) made him a household name. Coming in a No.8, Clayton says of Gresham:
Gresham is a big target who can make leaping catches downfield. He combined with rookie wide receiver A.J. Green to make things easier for rookie quarterback Andy Dalton in 2011. The trio went to the playoffs and the Pro Bowl.
With the multiple additions to the offense this offseason, Gresham should benefit and we could see Rodney Holman-type numbers from the big guy. If he produces at the Pro Bowl-level once again in 2012, he will likely become a top priority for the club to sign him to a contract extension.
Some may feel that this is a bit low for Gresham. According to this list, he's the fourth-ranked tight end in the AFC. Seeing as how the two Patriots tight ends are on the list, as is Antonio Gates, and the fact that Gresham was a second-alternate to the Pro Bowl in 2011, I'd say that the ranking is pretty fair. It's also kind of neat to note that Gresham was the only tight end from the AFC North division to make the list.