However, Coach Payton saw a diamond in the rough, a guy who had all of the tools, but would need help refining them and learning the basics of blocking and route running in order to become a successful in the NFL.
Graham turned heads during the Saints’ first day of training camp with his one-handed catch, which was something you’d expect to see coming from a veteran receiver, not a guy who had only played football for a year.
Graham started the year as Jeremy Shockey’s backup, but with Shockey’s yearly injury, an opportunity arose and Graham took advantage of it in a big way, with a five catch, 72-yard outing in Week 11 against the Seahawks.
He would end the regular season on a high note, catching four touchdown passes in the final three games.
With Shockey’s increasingly high salary and knack for getting injured, the Saints have turned to Graham’s athleticism and upside, cutting Shockey before the lockout began.
It demonstrates that the team has very high confidence in Graham, so much so they would be willing to cut a veteran like Shockey in favor of the second-year pro.
He surprised everyone right off the bat with his strong training camp, but it was his steady signs of improvement throughout the season that seemed to catch the eye of the Saints coaching staff.
New Orleans is expecting big things from Graham in 2011, a player who seems to have no ceiling at this point, and could become a huge playmaker for the Saints very soon.