Bengals intentionally “stayed away” from Aaron Hernandez in 2010 Draft
Bengals owner and general manager Mike Brown told Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com that his team some concerns with Florida product Aaron Hernandez, which forced them to pass on him in the 2010 NFL Draft. Instead, the Bengals picked up Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham in the first round of that draft.
“That one is no secret. We just stayed away from it,” said Mike Brown. “We didn’t question the playing ability. But we went for Gresham.”
Obviously, no one, not even the Bengals had any way of knowing that Hernandez’s future had a murder case in store for him. But the Bengals opted to pay heed to pre-draft scouting reports they had received regarding Hernandez that indicated there were concerns the team could face more off-field problems with the player down the line.
However, the Bengals weren’t the only team that hesitated on drafting Hernandez. Although Hernandez delivered high promise of quickly emerging as an NFL level tight end after becoming the 2009 winner of the Mackey Award, he was still the sixth tight end coming off the board in the 2010 NFL draft. Hernandez was picked behind Gresham, Rob Gronkowski (Patriots), Ed Dicskon (Baltimore Ravens), Tony Moeaki (Kansas City Chiefs) and Jimmy Graham (New Orleans Saints).
Mike Brown also said that the Bengals had hindsight into Gronkowski’s health issues and medically disqualified him form their draft board “because he had a bad back” coming out of Arizona State. Although after being selected in the second round, Gronkowski quickly blossomed into one of the league’s top tight ends, he was limited to 12 games last season. Gronkowski is currently recovering from offseason back surgery and is highly likely to open the 2013 preseason on the New England Patriots’ physically unable to perform (PUP) list, which raises further question over the potential longevity of his NFL career.
But at this point, Gronkowski at least has an NFL contract in hand, which cannot be said of Hernandez, who jeopardized his NFL career after being arrested in connection to the slaying of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd in June. No NFL team was willing to put in a waivers claim for Hernandez, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made it very clear recently any team intending to sign Hernandez to a free agent contract will first have to get the Commissioner’s approval.
Meanwhile, opting for Gresham has proven fruitful for the Bengals after the player made Pro Bowl appearances in each of the past two seasons, while recording 172 catches for 1,804 yards and 15 touchdowns during that period. Also, Gresham hasn’t been in any trouble with the law since entering the NFL.