NFL Nation: University of Oklahoma

Gresham, Hernandez could help AFC North

February, 27, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS--As we've pointed out this week, the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens need big-play receivers.

But a big-play tight end wouldn't be a bad second option for both teams, either.

Enter University of Florida's Aaron Hernandez and Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham. This athletic duo could be the answer to a lot of the offensive problems facing Baltimore and Cincinnati.

The Bengals and Ravens both struggled with "splash" plays last season, which often is defined as passing plays of 20-30 yards or more. Long gains from the tight-end position certainly were few and far between.

Gresham and Hernandez, the top-rated tight ends in this year's draft, have the ability to stretch the field. Both players are projected to run in the range of 4.5 or 4.6 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.

"I'd like to be like a Tony Gonzalez, just be great like that, in a sense," Gresham said. "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."

As with most pass-catching tight ends, blocking at the next level is the biggest unknown for both players.

Gresham missed all of 2009 with a knee injury and wasn't known for his blocking even before that. Hernandez, who played in Florida's spread offense, was rarely asked to block at the point of attack.

"I don't think I'm a horrible blocker," Hernandez said. "But I feel like I definitely have room to improve a lot of things in my game and that's one of them."

Gresham also admitted that improved blocking is "a personal goal for myself." If either tight end gets drafted in the division, run blocking will be a large part of their responsibilities as Baltimore, Cincinnati and the Pittsburgh Steelers all had 1,000-yard rushers last season.

But the strengths of Gresham and Hernandez -- catching and running with the football -- are certainly needed in the AFC North. That makes them prime candidates for Cincinnati, picking No. 21, and Baltimore, picking No. 25.

Bulaga feels he's top OT

February, 25, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- Currently, offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga's stock is rising up the draft boards. But the University of Iowa junior believes it should be even higher.

Bulaga said Thursday that he feels he's No. 1 at his position.

"I'd like to think that I'm the best tackle in the draft," Bulaga said. "Obviously, this is a very deep class with a lot of great players. Everyone is going to be jumping each other and going under each other up until draft day. So it's going to be exciting to see.

"Obviously, this weekend is going to decide a lot."

Bulaga will participate in all of the workouts this week in Indianapolis. Right now, he is a projected top 15-20 pick and a possible target for the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 18.

ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. has Bulaga third behind offensive tackles Russell Okung of Oklahoma and Anthony Davis of Rutgers. Bulaga could have returned to school with hopes of being one of the top picks in 2011. But he feels going to the next level this year was the best decision.

"I think I was ready to come out from a maturity standpoint, and from a production standpoint I thought I was ready," Bulaga explained. "I thought I was ready to help out an NFL team right now."

Posted by's James Walker

Here are the latest developments Wednesday in the AFC North:

  • A source told the Associated Press this afternoon that Cleveland Browns receiver Donte' Stallworth will be charged with DUI manslaughter. According to results of a blood test, Stallworth's blood-alcohol level after the crash was .12, well above Florida's legal limit of .08.
  • Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome talked about the NFL draft with the media Wednesday, according to the Baltimore Sun.
  • The AFC North blog examines if the Cincinnati Bengals have sleeper potential in 2009. In case you're wondering, this is no April Fools' joke.
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting two more college prospects visited the Steelers Wednesday: Oklahoma offensive tackle Phil Loadholt and Central Florida cornerback Joe Burnett.