Cory's Corner: Jimmy Graham Can Block?

Brian Gutekunst said that Jimmy Graham was a good blocker. 

The NFL is in Phoenix this week for Annual League Meetings.

Many will be chatting about proposed rule changes or what the fate of Patriots owner Robert Kraft should be. 

The thing that puzzles me, though, is what Brian Gutekunst said about Jimmy Graham.

“I’ve heard the comments of him not being a blocker, if you really go back and look at the tape he did a nice job as a blocker for us last year, much more than people would understand unless you watch the tape,” he said. “Obviously Jimmy, he’s a Hall of Fame-type talent. He probably didn’t have the year he was quite expecting last year, but he still was a pretty productive player for us…I thought he was really good for our locker room and I expect big things from him this year.”

Obviously, Gutekunst isn’t going to trash one of his players. But going out of his way to say that Graham is a good blocker is like saying that Jeff Janis was a good route runner. 

I mean, come on Gute. I don’t consider Pro Football Focus the end-all when it comes to football knowledge, but the site ranks Graham as the 96thpass blocker among tight ends last season. Robert Tonyan was 31stand Lance Kendricks was 75th

And if Graham is such a good blocker, then why did Gutekunst go and sign Marcedes Lewis — arguably one of the best blocking tight ends in the game. 

“Obviously, Marcedes continues to be one of the better blocking tight ends in the league,” said Gutekunst. “He was such a really good fit in our locker room last year, brought a lot of leadership for a player coming from the outside, thought he did a really good job of that. Probably didn’t have the opportunities he wanted last season, but I think Matt, in his offense, the blocking tight end is a very important role, and I think Marcedes can fill that.”

The funniest thing about this is that when Graham reads or hears Gutekunst’s comments, he will either laugh or be upset. He’s going to laugh because he knows that he’s not a very good blocker to begin with or he will get angry because he will think that his role will suddenly transition from a receiving tight end to a blocking one. 

There could also be the notion that Gutekunst is blowing smoke and planting a seed. He could be saying that the tight end position is fine until he pulls a fast one on draft day and grabs either T.J. Hockenson or Noah Fant in the first round.

But Gutekunst doesn’t have to play the articulation tap dance in order to address a position that has been starved since Jermichael Finley was drafted in 2008. 

There are so many ways Gutekunst can go in the upcoming draft. He has two first rounders and four picks from Round 2-Round 4. If he wanted, he could package picks and potentially end up with three first round picks.

But what he doesn’t have to do is say that Graham is a good blocker. That’s just illogical. 

 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (59)

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Coldworld's picture

March 26, 2019 at 06:27 am

I suppose “he did a nice job as a blocker” depends upon what was expected of him in that department both as a player with a track record and the usage anticipated within the system and what he was asked to do.

Regardless of the above I don’t equate Gute’s comments as stating Graham is a great blocker, more that he did acceptably in light of the team’s expectations in that department. Contrast that statement with that on Lewis.

What I do draw from the above that is positive is the apparent acceptance that the new regime will be using the TE group differently and in more varied ways. That I sincerely hope proves to be the case.

I do not, however, agree with your conclusion that this will include Graham being asked to be a blocking TE. That context surrounded the comments on the value of Lewis and of blocking TEs within the new scheme.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 26, 2019 at 08:14 am

Could easily be a pre-draft smokescreen.

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crayzpackfan's picture

March 26, 2019 at 07:45 pm

I hope you’re right. Otherwise I’m kinda nervous about Gute making draft picks. lol

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PatrickGB's picture

March 26, 2019 at 06:57 am

I heard that comment from Gute as well. I am not sure if it was props to jimmy or had some basis in truth. In any case, he has a new coach, new scheme and a healthier body this year. He also has a year of experience with AR. We shall see...

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stockholder's picture

March 26, 2019 at 07:00 am

I don't think Gute pulls a fast one selecting Hoek. He has to many problems on the defense yet. Gute's doing his due diligence in being positive and supportive. If Graham wasn't getting 10 mil. no one would write a thing. Hoek is fools gold. The lions just signed two veteran TEs. Do you really think they care about the TE class? Defense is the way to win. And this draft has what teams need first. DEFENSE! Can't you see a TE isn't our needs either?

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The TKstinator's picture

March 26, 2019 at 08:15 am

Hock.

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Cartwright's picture

March 26, 2019 at 03:38 pm

Stock, I'm kinda comin' around to your way of thinking. I'm sick of watching a lousy defense and we've been lousy for years. To have a defense that would strike fear into the opponent would have me smiling from ear to ear. These FA pickups coupled with drafting a dominant lineman whose got the push, Oliver? and fits into Pettine's scheme may be just what the doctor ordered. The rap is this Hock kid is a generation player that doesn't come around to often. Hopefully he's taken before pick 12 which would then make Gute's decision much easier.

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stockholder's picture

March 26, 2019 at 04:20 pm

I like Fant better. I saw Fants break -away speed. Separation. Would you take a TE because he can Block? Yes he's a good TE that is only going to get slower. Everyone does in the NFL. Hoek @12= pick that resembles Mercedes Lewis career. Gonzales was a great TE. Hock is not Gonzales. If Gute drafts him @12 they will never become super-bowl champs before A-Rod is done.

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Scrum's picture

March 26, 2019 at 07:16 am

"And if Graham is such a good blocker, then why did Gutekunst go and sign Marcedes Lewis — arguably one of the best blocking tight ends in the game."

Ummm, maybe because lafleur's offense loves to use multiple TEs??? And this would actually free up Graham to be used in the passing game, ie what he is best at.

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CoryJennerjohn's picture

March 26, 2019 at 09:56 am

I realize that Scrum. What I’m saying is, why even bother saying Graham is a good blocker if you’re going to re-sign Lewis?

Just market Graham as a wideout and be done with it.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

March 26, 2019 at 10:20 am

Remember when the Saints wanted to Franchise Tag Graham and he wanted to be paid like a WR not a TE? Even Graham knows that he's an oversized WR.

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Scrum's picture

March 26, 2019 at 11:09 am

Bc he is a TE, and has blocking responsibilities. He's going to be doing it.

When has a WR ever been in a 3 point stance? Never.

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Packer_Fan's picture

March 26, 2019 at 07:18 am

I don't care that much if Graham is a good blocker. It is how they use him and Lewis and hopefully Hockensen.

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MarkinMadison's picture

March 26, 2019 at 08:01 am

Fant is fast enough that you could line him up on the outside, and then put Lewis and Graham in, and watch defenses $#!t their pants.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 26, 2019 at 10:40 am

Depends...

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Leatherhead's picture

March 26, 2019 at 07:55 am

Obviously, he blocked well enough for us to be #2 in yards per rushing attempt.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 26, 2019 at 04:53 pm

“Because of” or “in spite of”...?

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Trapped in MN BUT GB fan's picture

March 26, 2019 at 08:01 am

Hard to say what he can or can't do as last year there was no way you could tell exactly what the head coach or quarterback wanted. I'll wait and see when decent direction accountability is established.

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4thand1's picture

March 26, 2019 at 08:08 am

So, the Pack has 3 TE's that played last year and are signed for this year. Looks to me that they won't be taking a TE at 12. Personally , I'd like to see a LBer that can cover a TE and there could be 2 good ones at 12. Will either be BPA, who the ---K knows? Keep guessing everyone , I haven't a clue what will happen.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 26, 2019 at 08:16 am

None of us do. That’s what makes this time of year fun.

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EdsLaces's picture

March 26, 2019 at 08:29 am

If we take a tight end before round 2 I'll be bummed. We dont need a drastic change from the offense ..we need one from the defense. 2 defenders in round 1 and then do whatever you want Gute...( playmaking safety please)

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Leatherhead's picture

March 26, 2019 at 09:00 am

The smart play, IMO, is to draft a TE on the 2nd day, in round 2 or 3 . We still need a starter at safety, and we still need a starter at ILB. IMO, we should fill those spots first.

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stockholder's picture

March 26, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Old school. The smart play is to not draft a TE.

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MarkinMadison's picture

March 26, 2019 at 02:15 pm

I'd beg to differ. I think the offense was pretty pedestrian last year. For a year in which #12 wasn't out with a broken collar bone, it pretty well sucked. Compare 3rd down conversion rates. In 2018 the Packers were 75/204, or about 36.75%. 2016: 46.66%. 2014: 47% 2013: 41% 2012: 42% 2011: 48%. The offense needs help. Lots of young talent at WR that will be closer to breaking out than anyone we can likely get in the draft. This is not a RB league. Picking up a stud TE would be a good move.

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Coldworld's picture

March 26, 2019 at 02:49 pm

BPA! Seems to me that’s the whole point of the offseason so far. The only absolute must have is a cover safety, which seems likely after Gute’s comments on Williams, and even that could come through FA if a higher pick doesn’t fall that way.

I won’t be upset if they pick a TE early if it’s a credible pick, but I won’t object if they don’t. This is a draft to upgrade as much as possible given what the draft gods render possible.

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albert999's picture

March 26, 2019 at 10:44 am

I agree
they kept 3 TE’S
I believe they go OL, EDGE, S

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EdsLaces's picture

March 26, 2019 at 11:32 am

They just paid 2 edge guys . If we are constantly building for the future, edge can wait. Weak spots now are MLB and Safety.

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stockholder's picture

March 26, 2019 at 12:33 pm

There also the easiest to repair. Example: See how easy Williams and Morrison came in. (You get what you pay for.). Wilkerson must be replaced. The hole is still up front. And it may get bigger. The more you replace one guy with another. The hole is still on depth. There won't be a safety selected in Rd. 1 Top 25. So your only going to get HOPE there. The ILB has two Devins. Neither look to be Butkis ,Nitschke,Etc. But will fill any weak spot. The ILB position needs depth. Expect two picks. After Oliver.

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Dzehren's picture

March 26, 2019 at 08:21 am

Graham was not brought to GB to be blocker. Lewis was brought in to block. MM didn’t use either TE correctly last year. MFL will.

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Archie's picture

March 26, 2019 at 12:03 pm

One can hope.

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sam1's picture

March 26, 2019 at 08:30 am

Isn't it great that so many writers say and know about this time of the year and then when all is done and the smoke clears many of them weren't right on even one darn thing! Speculation is what it is all about this time of the year and in most cases no hats are tipped and keeps everyone guessing! Guess they were happy when Graham got in someones way last year and called it a block!

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Jonathan Spader's picture

March 26, 2019 at 10:02 am

Cory is saying that Gute is claiming Graham was a "good blocker" in 2018 for the Packers and that he wasn't. I'd day that Cory was right. Graham wasn't a good blocker for the Packers in 2018. It's a GM not a writer making a claim. Commentors on CHTV also speculate and make a lot of guesses and claims that more often than not end up being false why target the writers?

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Skip greenBayless's picture

March 26, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Spader, you do realize you are responding to a child right?

Dash

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LarryPennell's picture

March 26, 2019 at 12:34 pm

From Dash's post the other day:

1. Don't call me Rash. It's insulting and it's a personal attack against the rules here and you break it every chance you get. It's inciting and you do it on purpose.

Why is it if you perceive an insult you break out the rule breaking but it's ok for you to call another commenter a child?

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Jonathan Spader's picture

March 27, 2019 at 01:04 am

Don't make me put you in time out Larry!

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Ferrari Driver's picture

March 26, 2019 at 09:15 am

I'm not sure if Graham can block, but at least he could try. If he can't block, he amounts to a larger slower, older, receiver and I think we would do better to use one of last year's receivers who are just as tall and faster and younger. I would like to see the Packers add Hock at 30 or in round two if we should happen to be lucky, very lucky.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 26, 2019 at 10:39 am

I don’t really understand tight ends that “don’t block” just like I don’t understand NBA players that “don’t play defense”.

I’m ignorant enough to assume that with effort and coaching, just about any tight end could be at least an average blocker.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 26, 2019 at 09:28 am

Graham is bad at blocking. It isn't controversial.

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egbertsouse's picture

March 26, 2019 at 09:57 am

He is also bad at catching and running. Gute learned from Uncle Ted that you don’t admit mistakes, you double-down.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 26, 2019 at 10:44 am

Bad at everything. That probably explains why he's a future HOFer. And it certainly explains why he was in the Top 10 in most categories for TEs last year, and why he had one of the best seasons for a TE in Packer history.

Hyperbolic excess.

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Coldworld's picture

March 26, 2019 at 02:54 pm

I watched him. This bad at running thing is getting tired. Is he 22? No, but he sure as hell was downfield a lot. I still believe it was idiotic to play him with that splint, but his legs got him there.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 26, 2019 at 10:43 am

"Bad" by what measuring stick? All TEs? All TEs who caught 50 passes or more? Richard Rodgers? Travis Kelce?

Once again, bell curve. 32 starting TEs. 2/3 are average. That means 5 are above average, and 5 are below. Do you believe Jimmy Graham is one of the 5 worst blocking TEs in the NFL? Based on what?

I have an inquiring mind, and I'd like to know how we could have one of the best yards/rush averages when we had a "bad" blocker involved.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 26, 2019 at 11:41 am

Apparently they are looking for Bubba Franks crashing the corner while Graham tends to screen guys like a forward. Graham should be a bit more aggressive with LeFleur's offense.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 26, 2019 at 05:41 pm

I don't know if you're old enough to remember Bubba's playing days, but a lot of Packer fans weren't very appreciative of him because he wasn't an elusive runner after the catch.

Bubba was my kind of TE. He could get his man blocked in the running game and catch a couple of passes each game. That's all I need/want/expect from the position.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

March 26, 2019 at 11:03 pm

Old School, I would think you would like the play of Ed West who was a solid TE for the Packers and a nice fellow to boot.

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cheesehead1's picture

March 26, 2019 at 10:29 am

Graham had a poor season as a receiver and blocker, even he admitted it wasn’t a very good year. Kudos to him for this and with a new coach, hopefully he can turn back the clock and have a much better season.

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CheesyTex's picture

March 26, 2019 at 11:07 am

Amen!

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4thand10's picture

March 26, 2019 at 09:41 pm

He still had a better year than 2017 when he was in Seattle. He had more yards but 4 less TDs. Jimmy Graham will be worth every penny this year... that’s my official position.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

March 26, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Thank you Cory for this article. I love your brutal honesty. If our GM thinks Graham is a good blocker than what else is he getting wrong? I mean this is the same guy who traded away a ball hawking hard hitting starting safety in Damarious Randall for Kizer who he referred to as an exceptional quarterback. Kizer couldn't be hired as a dog catcher. Gutey has fired 25 or so darts at the dartboard since the first draft and free agency and only has hit the bullseye once with Alexander. If Gutey was a dart board player he'd be picked last. I doubt John Dorsey, Elliott Wolf and their mentor, the legendary TT would call Graham a "good blocker". They would be honest or they would shut their mouths. Hey, at least Gutey's "nice" and "not like Ted". I'll give him that.

Dash

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LarryPennell's picture

March 26, 2019 at 12:29 pm

Weren't you begging the Packers to resign Breeland? Who brought him in?

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MarkinMadison's picture

March 26, 2019 at 02:18 pm

More importantly, what's a "dart board player?" I thought we just play darts. We don't play dart board.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

March 26, 2019 at 05:08 pm

No Mark you play darts, the rest of us talk football and focus on football. Gutey throws darts at a dart board for his picks. He's a dart board player. Try to keep up instead of focusing on nonfootball related subjects. This is too easy.

Dash

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LarryPennell's picture

March 26, 2019 at 05:21 pm

But Dash, who was the next great upcoming receiver you proclaimed, J'Mon Moore? Who drafted him?

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MarkinMadison's picture

March 26, 2019 at 07:19 pm

OK man who called someone a child on this thread. You know what's great about you? I can turn on the "fan-friendly filter." You get so many negatives, by the time I see you again you'll have changed names. It's so easy. Bye troll.

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tincada's picture

March 26, 2019 at 12:25 pm

The QB room is set with Hundley Uh huh.

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marpag1's picture

March 26, 2019 at 02:21 pm

You mean the QB room for the Arizona Cardinals?

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marpag1's picture

March 26, 2019 at 02:30 pm

The silliness in all of this is that someone apparently thinks Gutekunst should spill his guts and give direct, candid answers about what he really thinks. That would be stupid, and no sensible GM would do it.

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dobber's picture

March 26, 2019 at 07:35 pm

You win the thread, marpag1!

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powell.david1's picture

March 27, 2019 at 11:12 am

Hopefully he means "for what we need him to be" which will actually be no blocking at all

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