Many in New Orleans Saints nation were upset when NFL Network announced that tight end Jimmy Graham would not be a part of the 2013 edition of the Top 100 players.
Graham’s omission from the Top 100 isn’t all that shocking.
For one, the list is voted on by players. In other words it basically amounts to a popularity contest in the same vein as the Pro Bowl. It also means teams that had great seasons will be higher on the list. Obviously New Orleans is a team that fell on hard times last year with a 7-9 record and the worst statistical defense in NFL history. This point is further reinforced by NOLA.com’s Mike Triplett, who points out just how far each Saints player fell:
The NFL Network also revealed that quarterback Drew Brees will rank somewhere in the teens this year after being ranked No. 2 overall in 2012. Guard Jahri Evans was also left off the list entirely after ranking No. 32 last year. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma (No. 58 last year) and tailback Darren Sproles (No. 86 last year) also fell off the list.
Graham’s performance fell along with the Saints. After over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011, Graham struggled his way to just 982 yards and nine touchdowns. These numbers wouldn’t be horrible for most tight ends, but it was a disappointing output for a player of Graham’s caliber.
Make no mistake, Graham is the best tight end in the league not named Rob Gronkowski. He’s a game changer and one of the most valuable offensive pieces in the NFL and has a bright future, especially is Drew Brees continues to play at a high level.
While all of that is true, his ranking on a trivial list like this doesn’t matter. It wasn’t unexpected that Graham would be omitted thanks to his and the team’s down year. If Graham and the team can turn things around in 2013 he and the rest of the team could be dominating the NFL Network Top 100 in 2014.