Back in Bengals time: Jermaine Gresham instead of Rob Gronkowski

Be on the lookout for a occasional series we'll have on the Cincinnati Bengals blog called "Back in Bengals Time." It's a chance to look back at an event in Bengals history that took place on a specific day. We begin by going way back to this date six years ago...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bengals draft Jermaine Gresham, not Rob Gronkowski

After years of either passing up or just missing out on early- and mid-round tight ends, the Bengals were practically salivating as they entered the 2010 draft.

Atop the boards that year were Gresham, a tight end whose 26 career receiving touchdowns at Oklahoma ranked second in Big 12 history, and Gronkowski, the new owner of a slew of tight end receiving records at Arizona. Both had the right physique, and projected well in the NFL. Given the fact the Bengals had just gone through a 2009 season in which they had three tight ends -- including veteran and soon-to-be-free-agent Reggie Kelly -- on injured reserve, the timing of Gresham and Gronkowski's eligibility couldn't have been better. Also in that draft were tight ends Tony Moeaki, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez and Dennis Pitta.

Cincinnati only had to decide which one it would take with the 21st overall pick.

The rest is history.

A noted blocker, Gresham met more of the qualifications coaches and scouts were looking for and so he became the Bengals' pick. It took another 21 picks before Gronkowski was selected by the New England Patriots. His selection was the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship that has led to one Patriots Super Bowl victory and a pair of Super Bowl appearances. Gronkowski has 65 touchdown catches in six seasons; Gresham has 25.

Although Gresham is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, his past couple of seasons have been a little tumultuous. His time in Cincinnati ended on rather rocky terms following a decision to not play through an injury in the Bengals' playoff game at Indianapolis following the 2014 season. It turns out the injury was rather serious, as it required offseason surgery to fix a herniated disc. The surgery happened during the same offseason he was being courted as a free agent for the first time.

While Gronkowski's entire career has been spent in New England, Gresham has moved along to his second team. After signing a one-year deal last summer with Arizona, he re-upped with the Cardinals on another one-year deal last month. Although he was effective in his final season with the Bengals, catching 62 passes with five touchdowns, he didn't have as much impact in his first season in Arizona. Fighting through knee and hamstring injuries, not to mention any lingering effects of his back injury, Gresham caught only 18 passes and one touchdown in 15 games.

Here are other tight ends the Bengals missed out on before 2010:

2009: Richard Quinn was drafted by Denver as the final pick in Round 2. The Bengals had the sixth pick in Round 3, and it ultimately went to defensive end Michael Johnson. Later in the third round, they drafted tight end Chase Coffman, nine picks after fellow tight end Jared Cook went to Tennessee.

2008: Brad Cottam was drafted by Kansas City at 76th overall. One pick later, the Bengals selected defensive tackle Pat Sims. Later in the third round, tight end Jermichael Finley was picked by Green Bay, six spots before the Bengals selected receiver Andre Caldwell.

2006: Anthony Fasano was drafted by Dallas at 53rd overall. Two picks later, Cincinnati selected offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth.

2004: Chris Cooley was drafted by Washington at 81st overall. One pick earlier, the Bengals drafted linebacker Caleb Miller.