Ravens' search might end with Gresham

Some predict Oklahoma tight end will be draft pick

April 06, 2010|By Mike Preston

Some NFL teams have backed off Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham because of a past knee injury, but there are a number of draft experts predicting the Ravens will take him with the No. 25 overall pick.

Like most teams, the Ravens have examined Gresham repeatedly, much as they did running back Jamal Lewis shortly before they made him the No. 5 pick in the 2000 draft out of Tennessee. Like Gresham, Lewis had a knee problem and surgery late in his college career.

Gresham says he is completely healthy from surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee that forced him to miss last season.

"Yeah, I mean, I've been yanked and tugged on, and not one doctor said anything bad about it," Gresham said. "They said the knee is great and I'm good to go."

The Ravens have spent a lot of time with tight ends, cornerbacks and defensive linemen. Gresham is one of the top tight ends, along with Arizona's Rob Gronkowski. The Ravens could use Gresham, and they could bring him along slowly because veteran Todd Heap is still under contract.

After missing last season, the 6-foot-6, 261-pound Gresham is hungry to play. He had 66 catches for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2008, and needed only five more touchdown receptions to break the school record of 31 set by current Ravens receiver Mark Clayton.

"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," Gresham 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 I appreciate the game a whole lot more."

Besides the knee, the knock on Gresham, and just about all college tight ends, is that they don't block well. Gresham wants to change that, even though he doesn't mind putting up big numbers.

"I want to be a complete tight end," he said. "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 like a Tony Gonzalez, just be great like that, in a sense. You know, he played in so many Pro Bowls, year in and year out. He's a great player. He puts numbers up. He's productive. I'd like to be something like that."

If price is right, trade Gaither
It appears that all the trade talk about Ravens left offensive tackle Jared Gaither was a ploy to get the third-year player to start attending offseason workouts in Baltimore with the rest of the team.

It worked, and was a smart move by the Ravens.

But if the price is right for Gaither, especially during the draft, take the offer. What would be the asking price? A first- or second-round pick, and the latter would also have to include a conditional late-round pick in 2011.

Gaither has the potential, especially the physical attributes, to be an outstanding player, but he didn't help his case for a long-term contract with the Ravens or another team by not posting on time for the workouts.

When he played at the University of Maryland, the knock on Gaither was that he wasn't a hard worker, and his early absences only added to that reputation around the league.

A kicking solution: Stover
The Ravens have been talking about kickers for a couple of weeks now, but neither of the two remaining candidates, Neil Rackers or Shayne Graham, are that impressive.

A lot of kickers are considered flakes, and Graham definitely fits that classification. Just ask Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.

The Ravens should just let Billy Cundiff do the kickoffs and trot out old No. 3, Matt Stover, to kick field goals, just like old times. It's really not that complicated.

McCrary excited
Former Ravens Pro Bowl defensive end Michael McCrary has already begun watching game tape from a year ago, and he can't wait to get back out on the field to start teaching pass-rushing techniques to some of the Ravens' defensive linemen and outside linebackers.

McCrary worked with the Ravens in this capacity shortly after retiring in 2002. McCrary was, and still will be, a volunteer, but the Ravens could definitely use his help. The Ravens had only 32 sacks last season.

"I'm a volunteer, and both John [Harbaugh] and I agree that I need to see if this is something I really want to do in the future," McCrary said. "But sitting here watching film, I'm getting really excited again. The hair on my neck is starting to rise again because I'm back and close to the game."

Hey, Troy
Message to Ravens backup quarterback Troy Smith:

Please be quiet. You're talking way too much about being traded. You have a nice gig on Sundays standing on the sidelines wearing a baseball cap backward and holding a clipboard.

You're complaining about having a job when the national unemployment rate is around 10 percent. You're not getting any sympathy here.

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