I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't so sure about the selection of Jimmy Graham in the third round (95th overall) of the 2010 NFL draft. I was not leery because I felt that another tight end such as Aaron Hernandez would've been better (thankfully that was never an issue), but instead, like a lot of people, I was on the pro-defense train. I think we can pretty much all agree that the Saints needed way more defensive than offensive help at the time.
Now that I have been able to witness what he is capable of, if I would've been able to fathom Jimmy contributing even half of what he has done thus far, I would've taken that feeling of distraught back in a heartbeat. I never in a million lifetimes would've saw this coming. But now that I've gotten all of my sap out of the way, let's get to the real point of the story.
In just his second year of his career, the young Miami Hurricane was able to eclipse Kellen Winslow's thirty-year old record of 1,290 receiving yards by a tight end with 1,310 of his own. Patriot's tight end Rob Gronkowski would eventually (a couple of minutes later) set the record that stands today with 1,327 yards. Graham snagged 11 touchdowns that year as well.
Jimmy's third year saw a little bit of a drop off in performance as he had 982 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns, which are still both very respectable numbers. On the downside, he led the league with 15 drops. He later revealed that he was suffering from a nagging wrist injury all season, so that makes you wonder how he would've done had he been 100 percent. If he would've turned seven of those drops into catches and kept his average yards per catch number from that season, he could've had about 80 more yards and possibly another touchdown.
Through the first two games of the 2013 season Jimmy Graham has 14 receptions for 224 yards (16 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. His yardage total currently leads all tight ends in the league and is the sixth most overall. He is coming off of a performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he finished with 10 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. As of now, he is on pace to finish the season with 1,792 yards, which would smash Gronkowski's single season record. Obviously this number is a little far fetched, but I would not put a 1,500 yard season past him at all due to his proven talents.
So here's the golden question, Saints fans: Just how good is this guy? Well, I really don't know to tell you the truth. He is well on his way to finish with over 1,000 yards for the second time in his young, four year career and if he holds his number of 59.8 receiving yards per game and plays in the NFL for a total of 17 years like Tony Gonzalez, he will finish with over 16,000 yards in his career.
I think he is just scratching the surface of his talents, and to me that is scary considering what he has already done. What "bar" could Jimmy Graham set for future tight ends in the NFL? Are they all going to have to be 6-7, 265-pound monstrosities like him? Again, who knows.
I do know this though: Jimmy Graham very well could go down as the greatest tight end of all time.