Jimmy Graham, TE, Miami(FL)
Weight: 260 pounds
40 time: 4.56
One of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s NFL Draft, Jimmy Graham is a former basketball player who made his way to the gridiron in 2009 and has developed into one of the most talented and physically-gifted players at the tight end position in this year’s draft.
In his only year on the football team, Graham caught 17 passes for 213 yards and five touchdowns, which was second on the team.
Graham is an extremely athletic player who has the speed, quickness, and large frame to be a fantastic receiving option in the middle of the field. He does a great job of stretching the seam in the middle of the field and he is a reliable target for his quarterback; his long, lanky frame is so big that he’s a large target for the quarterback to throw to. Jimmy also has a great vertical, having recorded a 38-inch vertical jump at the Combine; he also has the longest arms (35-inches) and biggest hands (10 5/8 inches) of any tight end in attendance at the Combine.
Graham is capable of climbing the ladder and grabbing the ball out of the air; his ball skills are great from having been a successful basketball player. Jimmy is a tough player to bring down in the open field; he has the speed and quickness to pick up yards after the catch while he’s also a rather large player to try to tackle. As a blocker, he gives good effort, but this is one of the biggest areas where he is going to need to work on. He has the size and the large frame to add more strength, which will in turn allow for him to develop as a blocker.
Graham has the athleticism to be a very good route runner, however this is another thing that he will need to focus on getting better at in the NFL; the added coaching as well as gaining experience will help him here. As a whole, Graham is a very talented, yet very raw prospect and will be a great project for a team in the NFL. I project that Graham will be drafted in the third-to-fourth round.
Graham has all the talent in the world to develop into a very good player in the NFL, he just needs to gain experience; with only one year playing in college, he could be a year or two away from making a major impact at the next level. Teams have fallen in love with Jimmy because he possesses the type of natural talent and athleticism that is hard to find. Can he become the next Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates, a basketball player turned football star? Time will only tell, but he certainly has the talent, athleticism, and skills needed to do so.
Notes: Jimmy has said that football is his first love, which was shown when he turned down the chance to play basketball overseas to play football in 2009. Before this past season, he hadn’t played football since the ninth grade. In basketball, he recorded 104 blocks in 120 games for the Hurricanes while also averaging 4.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Coming out of high school, Jimmy was rated as the No. 16 power forward and No. 60 overall prospect in the country in basketball by Rivals.com. In addition to playing basketball and football, he also played baseball and tennis in high school.
Basketball player turned tight end, you say? Tall, athletic, not much of a blocker... yeah, sounds a whole lot like Gates and Gonzo. His last name even starts with “G”. But before we get too carried away with the comparison, let’s give Graham a chance to dust off the football skills; after all, he’s played tackle football one of the past seven years. He’ll work best in the same kind of roles that Gates and Gonzo occupy, as a matchup problem for defenses who’s a whole lot more receiver than blocker; just don’t expect him to be at that level right away.
In redraft leagues, it’s tough to see Graham having much, if any, value—not with the twin learning curves of college-to-pro and basketball-to-football. But in dynasty leagues with larger rosters, the potential of uncovering the next Gonzo or Gates makes it worth stashing Graham and waiting to see how he develops. Heck, even if he’s not quite up to that Hall of Fame level, an athletic tight end who’s a big red zone target brings plenty to the fantasy table.