Jimmy Graham's Greatness: In Historical & Statistical Context

As you'll see in the body of the story, Jimmy Graham is also heads and shoulders above his TE peers in the history of the Saints. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

As promised last week, here's the Jimmy Graham post you've been waiting for.

The Saints' second-year Golden Boy tight end broke out with a breakout season to top all breakout seasons in 2011, establishing himself as one of the Top 2, if not the Top 1 tight ends in the NFL today.

I wonder if this has been discussed in detail here before? Hmmmmm. And hmmm again. /strokes chin thoughtfully

Ever since the season ended, I've wondered just where Preacher's Kid now stands (sits, or whatever) in the pantheon of Saints tight ends, historically and statistically after a decent rookie season and one amazing, record-setting Pro Bowl year.

With help from pro-football-reference.com, I have completed some research on this very subject, and bring you the fruits of those labors after the jump.

Just using my noggin, I first thought of as many decent Saints tight ends as I could prior to Graham's arrival, and came up with the following count without having to take off my shoes and socks:

Hoby Brenner, known more for blocking than receiving, one-time Pro Bowler (1987), played whole career with the Saints, 1981-1993.

Henry Childs, great receiver, one-time Pro Bowler (1979) starter for the CSC All-Time Saints team, member of the Saints from 1974-1980.

Cam Cleeland, one of Ditka's gems, good rookie year, played three seasons for Saints (1998, 1999, 2001), seven years total in the NFL.

John Tice, another great blocker, played 10 years with Saints (1983-1992).

Wesley Walls, decent receiver for Saints from 1994-95, made five Pro Bowls with Carolina after leaving the Saints (GAAA!), 14-year NFL career.

Here's how the six of them stack up in a table, ranked by number of games played with the Saints (stats from their years with the Saints found on pro-football-reference.com):

Player

Games

Receptions

Yards

Yds./catch

TD

Hoby Brenner

175

267

3849

14.4

21

John Tice

134

158

1603

10.1

15

Henry Childs

87

207

3224

15.6

27

Cam Cleeland

36

93

1147

12.3

11

Jimmy Graham

31

130

1666

12.6

16

Wesley Walls

31

95

1100

11.6

8

So, you can see that the convergence of Graham's talent in conjunction with the presence of quarterback Drew Brees and the pass-favoring offense of head coach Sean Payton has Jimmy in prime position to be the most prolific pass-catching tight end in Saints history.

He is already heads and shoulders above those with almost the same number of games played as a Saints TE (Cleeland and Walls), neck and neck with Tice even though Graham's played in 100 less games than Tice, and on pace to easily pass Brenner and Childs (as long as he gets the maximum window of opportunity with Brees and Payton).

Regardless how this actually plays out in the long run, it should be fun to see it unfold over the next few seasons.

Hail, Jimmy!! Hail, Breesus!! Hail, Payton/Carmichael!! Hell, yeah!! May you reign for ever and ever!!


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