Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) fights for the ball after a fumble in overtime against Dallas Cowboys safety Eric Frampton (27) at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The experts over at ProFootballFocus have not been kind to the New Orleans Saints this offseason as they reveal their Top 101 players in the NFL for the 2012 season.
As we have already detailed, quarterback Drew Brees was the only member of the Saints to make the list this year, coming in at No. 79.
Being Saints fans, you are probably already aware of one man who was seemingly left out—tight end Jimmy Graham.
Graham had a down year last season when compared to his 2011 campaign, but last year was not bad by any means. He caught 85 passes for 982 yards and nine touchdowns.
His nine scores tied him for the No. 2 highest total, and the 982 yards planted him at No. 2 in that category behind Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys. The 85 receptions landed him at No. 3 behind Witten and Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons.
Of course, the guys over at PFF aren’t just looking at stats. They are grading every snap of every NFL player’s season as it happens and then compiling the list based on a multitude of things. Qualities such as blocking, route running and more are taken into account when looking at the tight end position.
Interestingly enough, five tight ends made PFF’s Top 101 above Graham. Here are the names:
39. Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers
42. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
44. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons
62. Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys
91. Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Overall, Graham was ranked as the No. 10 overall tight end in the NFL (subscription required). He had positive marks in every area, including pass and run blocking.
So what was the issue, you ask?
Graham dropped a league-leading 15 passes. Sure, he was targeted a ridiculous 131 times, which ranked him second in the league, but his habit of dropping passes is likely what shot him out of the Top 100 immediately.
Next season expect Graham to bounce back onto the list as long as he fixes his issues in terms of reeling the ball in consistently. Conventional wisdom says the Saints should be better overall thanks to the return of head coach Sean Payton, so Graham and perhaps a few others could join Brees on the list.