NFL DRAFT 2010: TIGHT ENDS

Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham missed his senior season with a knee injury, but could still be one of the top players at his position in the 2010 NFL Draft.

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Jermaine Gresham Could be One of First Tight Ends Selected in 2010 NFL Draft

INDIANAPOLIS – The specifics of the next month aren't that critical to Jermaine Gresham.

Gresham, a tight end from Oklahoma University, said while he is obviously anticipating the 2010 NFL Draft – and while it has been a major objective for a long, long time – that doesn't mean he will spend time obsessing over when, exactly, he will be selected.

That he will be selected is what he said is imant.

"My expectation is to get on a team," Gresham said at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in late February. "I don't allow my agents to tell me that. I don't really listen to it. My goal is to get on team anywhere. It doesn't matter, fifth or sixth, that's irrelevant.

"As long as I'm picked and lucky to play — I just miss football and want to play."

The missing football part has been a major part of Gresham's pre-draft story.

That's because while Gresham is generally considered a strong possibility to be one of the first players at his position selected in the April 22-24 NFL Draft – with many draft analysts projecting him some time in the second half of the first round – he did not play during his senior season at Oklahoma this past season.

Gresham (6-feet-5, 251 pounds), a hybrid receiver/tight end, was a Sporting News first-team All-American and All-Big 12 selection as a junior, but missed his senior season after sustaining a knee injury before the season.

As a result, Gresham's knee was a major story at the combine.

"They asked about how it was going, how did it feel," he said. "They pulled it, yanked on it and it turned out good. It was an injury which kept recurring. It required surgery, so I got it fixed and just looked long term-wise. I mean, I missed playing with my guys at OU, but it was something that needed to be done.

"The knee was locking up because the meniscus was folding over. It was subluxing, and that forced it to lock. When it locks like that, the trainers can twist it back in, but when they do, it swells up, which leaves me out for two or three practices.

"There wasn't any use in missing two or three practices when it happens every time, when it can happen at any moment."

Gresham, who said his goal is to be considered an all-around tight end in the mode of perennial Pro Bowl selection Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons, is considered by some analysts predominately a pass-receiving tight end, having played receiver in high school before growing into the position.

He caught 66 passes for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior, and finished his career with 111 receptions for 1,629 yards and 26 touchdowns, but said during the combine eventually proving his versatility is a priority.

"I want to be everything," he said. "I want to be a guy that, you know, the greatest player, if not one of the greats, that played it. So hopefully I can be a great blocker, great pass catcher, great route-runner, everything. . . .

"Being a great player, being known as a blocker, being known as a pass catcher, even down on special teams, even in the locker room – I want to be known for everything, somebody that can be known for everything that somebody can talk about as great or being one of the all-time legends or something like that."

Toward that end, Gresham said a major objective is to improve his blocking.

"Teams haven't told me anything – at all," he said. "I think that's a personal goal for myself. I want to be a complete tight end. I want to be on the field every down and I want to compete. I want to block, I want to catch, I want to do everything. . . .

"I'd like to be known as that. I wish I had that. More or less, I was seen as a pass catcher."

While Gresham considered entering the NFL Draft last off-season, he said he opted to return to Oklahoma with the idea of winning a national championship. Instead, he missed the season and with Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford missing all but three games, the Sooners never contended seriously for the national title. For Gresham, the season ended when his knee locked up while running a route. There was no contact, but it was soon decided surgery was necessary.

"That was very tough," Gresham said. "Not being able to play with 'em, that was the worst thing ever. But one positive thing about it was they played hard, and I want to say thank you to them for that, because they competed every down, every snap, and they had heart."

Asked at the combine how he would rate his hands, he said, "six," because he said they could use improvement, but he said his greatest strength was his competitiveness.

"I'm gonna compete no matter what," he said. "Whatever the circumstances may be, hurt knee, hurt shoulder, whatever, I'm gonna go out there and compete with whatever it is."

And that, he said, is what made missing this past season the most difficult.

"The game of football itself, when you miss it — you don't realize how important something is to you (until) it's taken away from you," he said. "So I think I've seen how important football is to me and how much I love it, seeing my other guys play and not being able to contribute.

"That took a toll on me and made me appreciate the game a whole lot more. Losing the game of football makes you appreciate what you (don't have). It's a getaway. It's fun for me.

"It's something that you love. You just don't want to lose it."

BREAKING DOWN THE 2010 NFL DRAFT'S TOP TIGHT ENDS
While Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham is widely projected to be one of the first players selected at the position in the 2010 NFL Draft, Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez has been rising on the draft boards of many analysts. Rob Gronkowski of Arizona, like Gresham, missed the 2009 season (back injury that required surgery), but still is considered no worse than a second-round selection. The tight end position is considered very deep in this draft, with quality available deep into the third, fourth and fifth rounds.

ON THE COLTS' ROSTER
Dallas Clark, eighth season, Iowa; Gijon Robinson, third season, Missouri Western State; Jacob Tamme, third season, Kentucky; Tom Santi, third season, Virginia; Colin Cloherty, first season, Brown; Jamie Petrowski, first season, Indiana State.

THE LAST FIVE
The last five tight ends drafted by the Colts . . .

2008: Tom Santi, sixth round, Virginia.

2008: Jacob Tamme, fourth round, Kentucky.

2004: Ben Hartsock, third round, Ohio State.

2003: Dallas Clark, first round, Iowa.

1996: Scott Slutzker, third round, Iowa.

THIS YEAR'S DRAFT
An alphabetical list of 15 tight ends expected to be selected in the 2010 NFL Draft . . .

Nate Byham, Pittsburgh, 6-4, 268

Dorin Dickerson, Pittsburgh, 6-2, 226

Ed Dickson, Oregon, 6-4, 249

Dedrick Epps, Miami, 6-4, 250

Garrett Graham, Wisconsin, 6-3, 243

Jimmy Graham, Miami, 6-6, 260

Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, 6-5, 261

Rob Gronkowski*, Arizona, 6-6, 264

Aaron Hernandez, Florida, 6-3, 245

Michael Hoomanawanui, Illinois, 6-4, 264

Anthony McCoy, Southern Cal, 6-5, 259

Tony Moeaki, Iowa, 6-3, 245

Dennis Pitta, BYU, 6-5, 245

Colin Peek, Alabama, 6-5, 252

Andrew Quarless, Penn State, 6-5, 254

Note: The content in this story and in the series of draft-eligible players that appears on Colts.com in no way reflects the position of the Indianapolis Colts.

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