Tight End Jimmy Graham burst onto the NFL scene back in 2011, when he was playing with Drew Brees in New Orleans. In just his second season as a pro, the former basketball star became an instant sensation, as he dominated defenders all over the field.
Brees immediately recognized the commanding physical skill set of his new teammate, and he consequently showered him with targets. The end result was a stat line of 99 catches, for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns. In the following three years with the Saints, Graham would go on to catch nine, 16 (!), and ten touchdowns in each season, respectively. Brees was able to utilize his star tight end in various situations. The 6’7 TE is an obvious choice near the end zone, but Brees didn’t settle for just using him in those situations. He maximized the output from his best weapon, no matter where they were on the field.
But when Graham joined forces with Russell Wilson in Seattle, the situation changed dramatically. Graham’s best season with the Seahawks was in 2016, when he was able to reach 65 catches for 923 yards and six touchdowns. He did have a ten touchdown campaign last year, but that came on just 520 yards receiving. Seattle failed to take advantage of Graham’s potential, and the two sides parted ways this offseason.
Enter Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Graham gets a fresh start in Green Bay, as he gets to play with one of the absolute best quarterbacks in the game. Rodgers knows better than to let Graham run routes without looking his way. He will certainly feature the tight end early and often. And with the Packers’ offense annually one of the most potent units in the league, we could see a record-setting season for Graham.
Graham is a mismatch for ANY defender in the NFL. His combination of height, size, speed, and great hands are simply too much to handle for the typically much smaller defensive backs and linebackers, who shamelessly attempt to cover him. It’s truly inexplicable that Russell Wilson didn’t feature him more in the Seahawks offense.
If nothing else, Jimmy Graham will be a presence in the red zone: he made a one-handed grab on a fade from Aaron Rodgers over safety Martin Evans, who at 5-11 had not shot against the 6-7 Graham. https://t.co/XLG1xUr6fM
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) August 13, 2018
So what can we expect from Graham in 2018? It’s quite possible that we see a second breakout from the tight end this season. Green Bay needs a touchdown scorer, now that long-time Packers receiver Jordy Nelson is no longer on the team. Nelson was a touchdown machine for the Pack, and they will certainly need someone else to step up and help match his numbers.
Yes, Davante Adams has shown he has a great rapport with his quarterback, but when healthy, Rodgers can easily throw 35 touchdown passes in a single season. In 2001, he threw a ridiculous 45 touchdown passes. So there will be plenty of chances for everyone on this team to tally up the stats. Graham has the best chance to lead this team in scores. With Rodgers at the helm, that could easily translate into leading the NFL in touchdown catches.