At “The U”, the famous motto in the early part of the decade was that they were never forced to rebuild, just reload. And the New Orleans Saints are doing the same thing with two former Miami tight ends, releasing Jeremy Shockey and inserting Jimmy Graham into the starting lineup for 2011.
The maddening inconsistency of Shockey forced the Saints to ultimately release him. For as heralded as the Saints are for their depth and production at wide out, they also like to use the tight end a lot. And Shockey just couldn’t keep up.
In 2008 Shockey (50, 483, 0 TD) was out produced by his back up, Billy Miller (45, 579, 1 TD). In 2009, David Thomas (35, 356, 1 TD) nearly out produced Shockey (48, 569, 3 TD) in about half as much on field time.
So do the Saints really like to spread it around between two different TE’s? Or have they just never had one that was very good? My money is on the latter which is why I think Graham will produce.
In 2010, Jimmy Graham scored five TD’s in five starts, falling just short 10 catches and 52 yards short of Shockey’s production in 11 starts, while scoring two more TD’s.
Graham is 6-6, 260 and attended the University of Miami on a basketball scholarship. He only played one season of college football, but the Saints saw enough talent in that year to select him in the third round of the 2010 draft
What encourages me heading into 2011 was the obvious chemistry between him and Drew Brees, especially around the goal line, over the last third of the season. After not catching a pass after the first five games of his rookie season, four of Graham’s TD’s came in the final three games.
For as deep as Graham is going in drafts, he could be a tremendous value. Think Antonio Gates in 2004.