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Rookie watch: Jermaine Gresham


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How good is Jermaine Gresham? Consider that he tore cartilage in his right knee last fall, missed his entire senior season at Oklahoma and still became a first round pick. Few NFL teams would gamble on such a player, never mind the fact that few tight ends land in Round 1 with two healthy knees, let alone one (and Gresham may not even have that -- he tore his left ACL during his senior year of high school).

Gresham was simply marvelous for the Sooners during his sophomore and junior seasons, serving as one of quarterback Sam Bradford's favorite targets. Now the 6-foot-5, 261-pound weapon will join a Cincinnati squad that hasn't had a game-changing tight end for years.

Dissecting the depth chart: Like a pampered socialite making an appearance at a nightclub, Gresham will move to the front of the line in Cincinnati. The Bengals did invest in fellow Big 12 target Chase Coffman in last year's draft, but he is not the athlete that Gresham is. Depending on Coffman's growth, those two could pair up to offer the Bengals a solid 1-2 punch for years to come. Daniel Coats gives Cincinnati another serviceable option, although probably only in the short term. Gresham is the guy -- today, tomorrow and years from now.

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Just the stats: In 2008 Gresham was one of America's most electrifying tight ends, with 66 catches for 950 yards. He tallied five games with multiple scores for the Sooners that season, and caught eight or more passes in each of his final three contests (including the loss to Florida in the national title game). In the win over Oklahoma State, Gresham posted career highs with nine catches for 158 yards. His best game may have come during his sophomore season: five catches for 80 yards and four touchdowns against Texas A&M. In his final two active seasons in Norman, Gresham caught a total of 25 touchdowns.

Rookie comparison from 2009:Brandon Pettigrew

Pettigrew caught 30 passes for 346 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games for Detroit last season. Both are first round tight end picks, but even at that, the comparison is probably unfair to Gresham. Few first-year NFL tight ends have been able to match his measurable qualities and athleticism. He could top Pettigrew's totals by the midway point of the year if he and Carson Palmer get on the same page early.

Interesting fact that won't help you: Gresham averaged a double-double during his junior year of basketball at Ardmore High School.

What he's worth: Gresham is an intriguing No. 2 tight end prospect in standard 12-team leagues. He has good upside and will work with one of the game's premier passers. He also has quality weapons to surround him and take the attention away. It's conceivable the pay-off could be huge for those fantasy owners willing to gamble on him. The injuries should remain a concern, especially since Gresham hasn't played a competitive down since January of '09.

Mike Beacom is a contributing writer for