The Cincinnati Bengals may have some players trying to prove their worth on other parts of the offense, but their collection of tight ends is one of the best in the NFL. Bengal tight ends were on the receiving end of 75 passes last season and accounted for a third of the Bengals' passing touchdowns with seven. Andy Dalton has learned that Jermaine Gresham, Donald Lee and Colin Cochart are as reliable a group of receivers as there are in the league.
Even with that considerable depth, the Bengals spent a third round draft pick in this year's draft on Georgia tight end, Orson Charles. Charles is a converted wide receiver who will give the Bengals even more downfield explosiveness out of the position.
With those four going into camp, it's hard to see the Bengals keeping all four players. That would mean that either Cochart or the newly re-signed veteran Lee are on the bubble.
Gresham made the Pro Bowl as an alternate last year after Rob Gronkowski couldn't go. With the addition of Charles, it would appear the Bengals may be looking at utilizing their tight ends as split out slot receivers similar to what the Patriots did with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez last season.
That makes sense for the Bengals offense. The more pressure the Bengals can put on the middle of the field with their tight ends, the less likely other teams will be able to bring a safety over the top in helping cover AJ Green. If Mohamed Sanu or Marvin Jones can become a threat at the other wide receiver position, that would mean a whole lot of single coverage and inevitable mismatches somewhere on the field for Dalton to exploit.
The Bengals have a long history of great tight end play from Bob Trumpy to Dan Ross to Rodney Holman. It would appear that a new generation of tight ends has arrived that will revive that tradition.
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