Jay Norvell says we’re going to be surprised when we get our first look at Bengals No. 1 pick Jermaine Gresham, the Oklahoma tight end expected to meet the Cincinnati media for the first time at about 5:30 p.m. Friday at Paul Brown Stadium.
“He always surprises people when they meet him in person. He’s a big, big man,” said Norvell, the Sooners passing game coordinator. “When he got back from the combine, I asked him, ‘They were surprised at how big you were, weren’t they?’ He just smiled and said they were. He’s easily 265 pounds and 6-5 and he’s got those big rangy arms.”
The Sooners may have had three of the top four players taken in Thursday night’s first round and two of them were quarterback Sam Bradford and tackle Trent Williams, but it was Gresham that Norvell says “changed us as an offense.”
“We were a spread offense and he gave us the flexibility to go double tight ends and run the ball more,” Norvell said. “Yeah, we had the quarterback and some great linemen, but Jermaine’s versatility allowed us to be so flexible and yes, no question, we were able to go more no-huddle because of his ability to give us heavy formations and he could also split out and be dominant in the matchups with linebackers and safeties.”
Norvell should know. He coached NFL tight ends for six seasons, four with the Colts and two with the then AFC champion Raiders from 1998-2003. He is not comparing Gresham to future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, but only comparing his style since he saw Gonzalez for two years in the AFC West.
“He’s a classic power forward type of athlete,” Norvell said. “He can run the two routes that separate tight ends in that league. The down-the-field seam routes and deep corner routes. There aren’t many guys that can do that and in-line block.”
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