Jermaine Gresham

Training Camp Preview: Bengals

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 13:  Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs the ball against the Minnesota Vikings on December 13, 2009 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Bengals 30-10.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Will Benson continue to develop in Cincinnati?

Biggest Question Mark: Cedric Benson
Has he finally developed into a franchise running back? He looked like it at times last season, but remained inconsistent. He rushed for over 100 yards in five of Cincy’s last six home games in 2009. But rushed for over 100 yards on the road just twice all season. That type of inconsistency can’t continue if the Bengals are to become a contender in the AFC.

Position Battle to Watch: Wide Receiver
Chad Ochocinco remains productive and he isn’t in danger of losing his starting role. However, he could lose the role of No. 1 receiver now that Antonio Bryant is in the fold. Due primarily to attitude problems Bryant has bounced around the league and Cincinnati is the latest team to give him a try. Aside from some locker room issues, he’s been productive throughout his career and is probably a more reliable receiver than Ochcocinco at this point in his career.

Impact Rookie: Jermaine Gresham
Gresham could be the piece of the puzzle that puts the Bengals over the top. They haven’t received any meaningful production from the tight end position throughout Carson Palmer’s time in Cincinnati and this new weapon could make their offense among the AFC’s elite.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bengals Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Bengals

The selection of Jermaine Gresham came as no surprise to anyone, and it was one of the better picks of the 1st round. They’ve needed and tight end for years, and they’ve finally give Carson Palmer the weapon he deserves. He could be in position to have a huge rookie season if they decide to work him into their game plan from day one.

Talent-wise, Carlos Dunlap could be a steal in the 2nd round. But not in Cincinnati. When are the Bengals going to learn that you can’t continue to surround yourself with players with significant character concerns. When you put players like Dunlap in a locker room like the Bengals’, its a recipe for disaster.

I really like the selection of Jordan Shipley in the 3rd round. I think he’s a perfect compliment to Chad Ochocinco and Antonio Bryant. He should be an immediate contributor.

Brandon Ghee fell further than most expect and could be a late 3rd round steal. He won’t be asked to start, but will provide a huge upgrade to the depth in their secondary.

Geno Atkins may have been a slight reach in the 4th round, but they needed to improve the depth on their interior defensive line. I like his chance to be a contributor in the rotation from day one.

Roddrick Muckelroy is one of those players who’s production in college doesn’t match his physical skills. He doesn’t look like an NFL player, but its hard to ignore the fact that he played a significant role on one of the best defenses in college football. He may have been a reach, but should make an instant impact on special teams.

Otis Hudson was a reach, even in the 5th round. They needed to add depth to the offensive line, but they should have targeted a player who can make a more immediate impact. Hudson may not be ready to play as a rookie.

I was surprised that Dezmon Briscoe fell to the 6th round and even more surprised that he was taken after fellow Jayhawk receiver Kerry Meier. He could be a steal for the Bengals. He’s prototypical possession receiver and should be able to learn a lot from Ochocinco and Bryant. This was an ideal spot for him to land. There will be no pressure to perform early on and he can learn from two accomplished veterans.

Reggie Stephens will probably has a better chance to play as a rookie than Hudson. He can play guard or center and his versatility will make it easier for the Bengals to keep him on the roster. He has the size to be a dominant run blocker and should work his way into their rotation as a backup even though his ceiling is limited.

Overall this was a very solid draft for the Bengals. They’re ready to win now, and they gave Carson Palmer who weapons who can contribute immediately. I have very serious concerns about the selection of Carlos Dunlap, but that’s to be expected of the Bengals every April. A better 3rd day of the draft would have put them over the top, but this was still a good draft for Cincinnati for both the short and long term.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bengals, Draft Grades - 2010 Comments Off

How the Donovan McNabb trade could impact the draft

We’ve heard all sorts of crazy rumors about Donovan McNabb over the past two weeks. Based on the number of trade rumors out there, it would certainly seem as though he’s headed out of Philly sooner rather than later. But rather than break down where he may end up, lets take a look at how the draft will change based on where he could land…

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys - Wild Card Round

McNabb doesn't want to leave, but if he does it will shake up the 1st round

If McNabb lands in St. Louis…
The most obvious repercussion of this scenario is that Sam Bradford is no longer projected as the top pick. Ndamukong Suh would likely go No. 1 overall and Gerald McCoy No. 2. Suddenly the Bucs would be on the clock with no need for a quarterback, but with a highly sought after prospect on the board. The Redskins would be holding their breath hoping no one trades up, while the Browns, Bills and possibly others would be on the phone with Tampa trying move up for Bradford. Assuming he fell to Washington, Jimmy Clausen would then fall to the Bills at No. 9. The real winner could be Eric Berry who suddenly becomes an option at No. 3 for Bucs.

If McNabb lands in Oakland…
Not much should change in this scenario, but you just never know with Al Davis. In an effort to keep McNabb happy, and around for longer than one season, Davis may decide to draft Dez Bryant. It sounds ridiculous at first thought, but it may not be such a bad idea. Heyward-Bey was a terrible selection last year, and he showed no signs of being a meaningful contributor anytime soon. Bryant has the potential to be an immediate impact receiver. Or, since Davis tends to shy away from receivers who run in the 4.5 or 4.6 range, maybe he goes way off the board for someone else. Jermaine Gresham? Golden Tate? Crazier things have happened.

If McNabb lands in Buffalo…
This may be the best scenario for McNabb, but its the worst scenario for Clausen. Assuming Bradford goes No. 1 and the Redskins take Russell Okung, Clausen could fall far. The Browns and Seahawks don’t appear to have an interest. The 49ers may be an option, but wouldn’t be a guarantee. If he slides past them at No. 17, there isn’t an obvious landing spot until the Vikings at No. 30. Its likely that someone would need to trade back into the 1st round to stop Clausen’s free fall.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Browns, Eagles, Raiders, Redskins, Vikings Comments Off

5 popular mock draft predictions unlikely to happen

Every year draftniks fall in love with certain predictions which, on paper, make sense. But creating a mock draft isn’t always about matching up the team’s needs with the best available player at that position. You have to understand each team’s draft tendencies and try to think like their GM (or whoever it may be that’s calling the shots).

With that in mind, I’ve set out to discredit a few common mock draft predictions which likely won’t hold true on April 22.

5. Jermaine Gresham to the Bengals
The Bengals have, hands down, the worst pass-catching tight ends in the league. So in theory, adding Gresham would make a lot of sense. However, Marvin Lewis and Bob Bratkowski just don’t seem to care. They have never incorporated the tight end into the offense and I don’t see any reason why they’ll change now. Selecting Gresham would require the Bengals to abandon an offensive philosophy which has worked fairly well in recent years.

4. Russell Okung to the Lions
Adding a young offensive tackle in the 2nd or 3rd round would be a wise decision for the Lions, but its unlikely to happen with the 2nd pick. Jim Schwartz has praised Jeff Backus, and even endorsed him as a Pro Bowl candidate this past season. With all the needs the Lions have on both sides of the ball, why would Martin Mayhew and Schwartz upgrade a position that they already view as a strength?

3. Joe Haden to the Browns
Haden is the top available player at a position at which the Browns are devoid of talent. However, a rebuilding process does not start with a cornerback. The trades of Corey Williams and Kamerion Wimbley have opened up gaping holes in the Browns front seven, which is always a higher priority on draft day than the secondary. Eric Berry, due to his elite draft grade, may still be an option, but not Haden.

2. Dez Bryant to the Dolphins
Signing Karlos Dansby left the Dolphins with just one glaring area of need: receiver. Or more specifically, a big receiver. Dez Bryant is exactly what the Dophins want, but there is no way that Bill Parcells ok’s the selection of a receiver in the 1st round. He hasn’t selected one since Terry Glenn in 1996, and that selection was actually made by Robert Kraft and was a key reason why Parcells bolted after the season. Throw in Bryant’s off-field concerns and he has little chance of wearing a Dolphins uniform in 2010.

1. Bruce Campbell to the Raiders
Al Davis has made plenty of bad decisions, but this would top them all. The thought process behind this selection is that the Raiders need a left tackle and Campbell put on a performance at the Combine that is sure to catch the attention of Davis. That said, there are enough other players with legitimate 1st-round grades that Davis can probably be talked into. Jason Pierre-Paul, Taylor Mays, Trent Williams and Anthony Davis are all much closer to receiving top-10 grades and would still fit the Al Davis profile.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bengals, Browns, Dolphins, Lions, Raiders 1 Comment

Corey Chavous is an embarrassment to all draftniks

If you watched andy of the Senior Bowl coverage on the NFL Network you may be familiar with Corey Chavous’ site DraftNasty.com. I checked out the site when I first learned of it and quickly dismissed it as a feeble attempt of a former NFL player to become a draftnik. The site is poorly put together and ridiculous rankings such as Joe Haden as the 4th-ranked cornerback and Jermaine Gresham as the 7th-rated tight end cause him to lose all credibility.

But just in case you actually thought he had some shred of credibility based on the fact that he played in the NFL, I present to you his mock draft.

A few of the highlights:
1. Neither Jimmy Clausen, nor Sam Bradford are in the 1st round

2. Ryan Mathews goes 7th overall to the Browns

3. Amari Spievey is the 2nd cornerback selected, behind Patrick Robinson

I hate to drive traffic to his site by even providing the links. But mock drafts like these, especially by those such as Corey Chavous who have the ability to reach a significant audience, infuriate me. Its insulting to the fans and it hurts the credibility of everyone in the business. Those who see these clearly impossible mock drafts quickly become cynical towards all draftniks. I hear it all the time: how can you predict the draft months in advance? True, its difficult, but not nearly as hard some make it appear.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 6 Comments

Cardinals Could Target Jermaine Gresham

cardinalsIn his latest mock draft Cardinals beat writer Bob McManaman predicts Arizona will select Jermaine Gresham. His primary argument centers around the fact that “if Matt Leinart is going to have any immediate impact running this franchise, he is going to need a big target he can find quick.”

Its certainly a valid argument, and Arizona is one of the likely landing spots for Gresham in the 1st round. [I currently have him headed to Cincinnati with the 21st selection]. One of the other points that McManaman brings up is that all league’s top quarterbacks these days seem to be paired with an elite tight end – something the Cardinals are clearly lacking.

playoff_tightendsTaking McManaman’s point a step further, I looked at each of this year’s playoff teams and their use of the tight end. Interestingly enough, all but two playoff teams – the Bengals and Cardinals – had at least one tight end with 400+ receiving yards in 2009. The Bengals’ Daniel Coats and the Cardinals Ben Patrick were the two outliers who came in 45th and 46th in the league, respectively, in receiving yards by tight ends.

Now I wouldn’t look to this stat and immediately say the Cardinals must draft a tight end. For the past few year’s they’ve been fine without one because Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin were each capable of filling the roll of a big, possession receiver for Kurt Warner. However, with Boldin likely out the door, potentially to be replaced by Steve Breaston and/or Early Doucet, it could create a noticeable hole in the Cards passing game.

Ultimately I think Boldin’s status will be the determining factor as to whether or not Gresham is high on the Cardinals draft board. If Boldin is traded, it would be far easier to replace him with a tight end than by trying to find a receiver of his caliber in the draft. Traditionally tight ends make a much smoother transition to the NFL than receivers, thus making Gresham a smarter pick for a team that is looking to win now.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Cardinals Comments Off