An examination of Jimmy Graham's blocking abilities
I was reading this fantasy article on NFL.com and it really made me want to make one huge point about football: Top fantasy players are not necessarily top NFL players. The statement that had me mad was the accusation that the players were wrong about their rankings of Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski last year.
Gronkowski was ranked very high and Graham very low. Whether or not this is right, it is ridiculous for a “fantasy expert” to think that they know better than the players. Graham puts up huge numbers and is certainly a top flight NFL player, but here is the bottom line: Gronk blocks the shit out of everybody and Graham basically cannot win a one on one matchup with anyone. One player is a strength in the most important facet of the game and one is a liability. To talk about the tight end position looking only at numbers is fine for fantasy, but the player rankings are about playing football and Graham still has a long way to come if he is going to be as great a player as Gronkowski.
I had an idea that Graham was a pretty mediocre blocker, but I watched their last game to make sure I was not imagining it. Here are some take aways:
- You cannot really run in Graham’s direction. His best bet is to cut off the backside defender with body position.
- Graham was not even in the game when the Saints really needed to run the ball late, not even to play wide, which he does often.
- Graham got called for holding and generally blocks with bad hand placement, and is always close to holding.
- Graham is still a beast and is a top-flight receiver, but comparing his overall skillset to Gronkowski is apples to oranges.
Watch this clip from the game of the Saints running zone in Graham’s direction. He is basically stood up, driven back and rag-dolled, shortening the edge and forcing the run to cut back.
Graham is at the top of the formation
#84 Kenny Stills also gets killed on the backend. Putting a 190 pound receiver at that spot is just not a plan to be successful.
The Saints are a beastly offense still, but Rob Gronkowski is the NFL’s number one offensive weapon because he is not a liability in any facet of the game. I did not talk much about Gronkowski's blocking, but trust me, dude can drive.
tl;dr: Graham is very good, but is not in Gronkowski's company