Sunday, May 9, 2010

Saints Nation: Jimmy Graham Could Make Most Meaningful Immediate Impact

With rookie mini camps underway this weekend, rookie Jimmy Graham is getting lots of talk. The Times-Picayune wrote about him turning heads and making the biggest statement early on in the workouts. Graham played basketball for 4 years at Miami before he used one last year of eligibility to play football with the Hurricanes. At 6'6", he sports a huge frame and uncanny athleticism. I'm going to go ahead and make the prediction now that Graham will have the biggest impact as a rookie on the Saints.

If you look at the Saints' picks this year, Patrick Robinson and Charles Brown will likely be eased into their NFL careers. Barring injuries, I don't really see either playing much in their first season. Robinson will get reps on special teams, but neither player will likely crack the starting lineup. I think Al Woods likely has the best chance to start of any rookie on the Saints, but I also think it's more likely he'll platoon in a defensive tackle rotation on running downs. As for Jimmy Graham, if he's even half as good of a receiver as people are suggesting he might be, Sean Payton will find a way to get him on the field. While there's little chance he'll pass Jeremy Shockey and David Thomas on the depth chart, we all know how much Sean Payton loves to rotate players and shift lineups. I think Graham will be a great fit as a red zone target. In addition, Shockey has struggled to stay healthy with any sort of consistency in his seasons as a Saint. Should something happen to him, I wouldn't be surprised to see Graham get on the field very often. I could see him ending the year with about 30 receptions and 5 touchdowns, if he does all the little things the coaches ask of him. You know Brees loves a big target with sure hands. Just ask Marques Colston or Antonio Gates.

This isn't as bold of a prediction as you might think. While there's no denying that Graham is raw in his football skills, the guy is big, he can run and he can catch. Those are qualities you can't teach, and he'll be a new weapon in an offense that's already unstoppable. What we've learned watching Brees for this long is it doesn't matter if you're a 10 year veteran or an undrafted rookie... he doesn't play favorites. If you're open, you're getting the football. Keep an eye on this kid...