Drew Brees recently said Jimmy Graham “has revolutionized the position“, referring to his speedy Tight End and teammate. Yes Jimmy Graham is one of the best at his position. Revolutionized it though? Hardly. He hasn’t even revolutionized it in his generation. The current NFL is a pass happy league and Graham has the size and speed to exploit that. Let’s take a look at a few of the pioneers at the Tight End position:
Mike Ditka- Was probably the first in a line of pass catching Tight Ends that could also knock your block off.
Kellen Winslow- Was part of the “air” Coryell attack. At 6’5 and 251 pounds, he was a freak*–way ahead of his time.
Shannon Sharpe- Almost fast as a WR, tough as a linebacker. Trash talked like a DB.
Tony Gonzalez- 90+ receptions 5 times. 15,000+ receiving yards. 111 TDs. Those are numbers any WR would be lucky to have.
Antonio Gates- Remember him? Speedy, huge. Soft hands. Drew, you threw to him in San Diego. You should remember your former teammate.
Jeremy Shockey- Was never the same after he got injured with the Giants. This guy had the size, speed and toughness of the “new breed” of Tight Ends.
Kellen Winslow II- Faster and more explosive than his father. Injuries and bad QBs cut down his production, but this guy was a beast for a few years.
The duo of Gronkowski and Hernandez entered the league in 2010, the same year Graham did. They combined for over 1,000 yards and 16 TDs in their rookie seasons.
Jimmy Graham is also a freak at 6’7″ and 260 pounds. He runs like a deer, has great hands and is a tough man. No doubt he is the premier Tight End in the league with Gronk battling injuries. I would even say Graham is one of the best 5 pass catchers in the NFL, but as you can see, he is hardly the first big man who could run and catch or block. Not even the first is this new decade of passing in the NFL. Sorry Drew. You are wrong again!
*freak as in freak of nature–meant with only the highest level of respect for the man and athlete!