Film Review: Jimmy Graham Scouting Report

Over the past decade, it’s no secret that Green Bay has stayed relatively quiet in the free agent market. Over the past three years, there’s been a major exception to that rule—the tight end position. Since 2015 Green Bay has put significant resources into signing free agents Jared Cook, Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks, and now Jimmy Graham.

Graham, who will turn 32 this season, certainly doesn’t come cheap. The rumored three year, $30 million dollar contract with $22 million in the first two years makes Graham one of the highest paid tight ends overall. He will immediately become the highest paid tight end in average salary at $10 million per season.

So the question for Friday’s Film Room is, “What can Packer fans expect from Jimmy Graham?”

I’ll be the first to admit, when the rumors started that Green Bay may be interested in Jimmy Graham I wasn’t overly enamored with the idea—especially in the ballpark of $10 million per season. I remembered Graham being a step slower, inconsistent, and not the same playmaker down the field that he was in New Orleans.

Graham ended the season averaging only 9.1 yards per reception and only slightly above 500 yards on 57 total receptions. Graham’s four biggest outputs in 2017 were 72 yards, 61 yards, 59 yards, and 58 yards respectively. Not once did he go over 75 yards in a game. There were also a total of 8 games in which he finished with under 35 yards receiving.

Strengths

Before putting on the tape there was nothing to suggest to me that Graham would be remotely close to worth the type of money he was about to receive. I knew that if he was going to be worth that type of money he was going to have to do three very distinctive things for Green Bay:

  • Use his size/speed/athletic ability to stretch the middle of the field vertically
  • Be a red zone monster
  • Be able to be used as a chess piece on the outside, creating mismatches against smaller corners or slower linebackers and safeties

The great news is that I was able to find all three of these things on tape:

Stretch the field vertically

Red Zone

Mismatch

These three distinct abilities give Graham the opportunity to live up to the value of his contract. Green Bay desperately needs a receiver/tight end to be able to stretch the middle of the field and both occupy more of a safety presence (freeing up outside receivers) and creating more room underneath for players like Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery, and Aaron Jones.

Also important, is Graham’s ability to be an unstoppable force in the red zone. Red zone offense/defense isn’t far behind turnovers when it comes to predicting win percentage in the NFL. If you can convert long drives into sevens instead of threes, you give yourself a much better opportunity to win the game. Graham had 10 touchdowns last year and shows no signs of slowing down in that area. His size and catch radius makes him incredibly hard to stop.

Lastly, Graham’s ability to be used out wide and create mismatches is a major area in which Green Bay can utilize him better than Seattle did. Green Bay has had great success using players like Jermichael Finley and Jared Cook out wide and opening up the offense. Graham’s ability to split wide and be an effective receiver really can create problems for opposing defenses. Green Bay has tried to recreate these mismatches using Lance Kendricks, Richard Rodgers, and Martellus Bennett with less than desirable results. Green Bay can now use three wide receivers to one side, Graham to the other and defenses will have to choose wisely how to cover Graham and how to utilize their safeties.

Weaknesses

While Graham’s mismatch potential is exciting, there are certainly concerns that are worth noting as well. We’ve already gone over his lack of production in 2017 (outside of the red zone), and the fact that he’s getting older in age. While it’s possible he could get rejuvenated by playing for a new team and with Aaron Rodgers, it’s also possible he continues to decline and never reaches the potential that Green Bay is hoping for. There were more than a few weaknesses that showed themselves on tape:

  • Dropped passes / lack of concentration
  • Declining athleticism
  • Blocking

Drops/Concentration

Declining Athleticism

Blocking

Anytime that a team signs off on a player over the age of 30 on a large contract there is always risk involved. That said, Graham still shows the upside and ability to be the weapon that Green Bay hopes he can be. The flashes of brilliance are there, the question is can Green Bay find ways to get Graham more involved in the offence and become a more consistent threat.

Graham seems to run hot and cold. If Green Bay can get him an easy pass or two early in the game it would give him some momentum for the rest of the game. A little scheming from McCarthy and Philbin could go a long way to help Graham get back to his dominant ways.

If Rodgers and Graham connect on a level that Graham and Wilson never did, and Graham puts in the work, Green Bay will have found a dangerous weapon for their offense that will give opposing defenses headaches.

Listen to previous Friday Film Room sessions here: https://soundcloud.com/andy-herman-596646919

Make sure to tune in Friday’s at 9:50am on WDUZ here: http://www.thefan1075.com/

***Cheap Plug Alert*** Make sure to purchase the CHTV Draft Guide here: https://cheeseheadtv.com/items

__________________________

Andy is a graduate of UW-Oshkosh and owns & operates the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Andy has taken multiple courses in NFL scouting and is an Editor for Packer Report. Andy grew up in Green Bay and is a lifelong season ticket holder - follow him on Twitter @AndyHermanNFL!

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Comments (13)

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John Kirk's picture

March 15, 2018 at 04:44 pm

Have we heard anything from Jimmy since the signing? I'd love to see how motivated he sounds.

For me, I would've been happier had the Wilkerson and Graham contracts been flip flopped. Big question marks for a guy getting that money who isn't being reunited with a coach who got the most out of him.

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Coldworld's picture

March 15, 2018 at 05:28 pm

The contract isn’t huge. Think how we missed Finley, who also had bad drops and also used to drive us mad with his inability to get extra yards after contact.

It seems to me that this is a big advance on where we were because he adds variety to our catchers we have not had for a while. I see improvement. Now we need a credible deep threat.

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John Kirk's picture

March 15, 2018 at 11:43 pm

The contract is huge. More than Travis Kelce and I heard it's the richest current TE contract although I'm not sure that's true. EDIT: I did some surfing and found that, yes, Jimmy Graham has the highest AAV of any TE in the NFL. His 10 million per outdoes Gronk by 1 mil...Kelce by 632k and Jordan Reed by 650k.

BTW, for anyone who has never seen this old piece, it's very much worth the minutes. If you thought Donald Driver had a compelling endearing story watch this and tell me you don't feel for Jimmy Graham and love that lady...not sure how Jimmy didn't break down multiple times telling his story...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRsYNFQOwl4

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Coldworld's picture

March 15, 2018 at 07:34 pm

FAs of any perceived distinction are not cheap. One has to look at the cost against potential contribution. It is one year longer and twice as much headline but potentially less guaranteed than Jordy just got.

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cheesehead1's picture

March 15, 2018 at 05:15 pm

Hope this signing works out, but he didn’t shine in Seattle. Only time will tell as always.

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Bert's picture

March 15, 2018 at 05:17 pm

I'm taking a "wait-and-see" approach towards Graham. I'm hoping he has more than what he's shown the last few years. Kinda skeptical though.

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Bure9620's picture

March 15, 2018 at 05:41 pm

He did NOT fit in Seattle's offense. Graham does NOT play in-line well, they had him chipping to help their practice squad offensive line. The problem being Graham is NOT a blocker, I really would not even categorize him as a tight end. I see him lining up in space all over the offense, outside fades, slot, splits, I could even see some bunch formations with him running seam routes out of it.

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Coldworld's picture

March 15, 2018 at 05:31 pm

Agreed. With Monty in sets I think Philbin May have new scope to create some real mismatches out of this signing as well

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Lphill's picture

March 15, 2018 at 05:57 pm

Still a big target in the red zone for Rodgers .
Throw it up high let him go up and get it hard to defend.

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Community Guy's picture

March 15, 2018 at 07:15 pm

i will not be surprised if Graham is successful in GB.. i also feel like GB will gain be relying on its offense to remain competitive in December and beyond.

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MarkinMadison's picture

March 15, 2018 at 07:16 pm

I just hope there is no guaranteed money in year #3. Still need to draft and develop one.

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Samson's picture

March 15, 2018 at 10:31 pm

He was dominate in New Orleans (Drew Brees).
He was pedestrian in Seattle (Russell Wilson).

My guess is that AR will bring out the best Graham can offer at this stage in his career. --- We'll find out if allowing Jordy to become a Raider will be worth 10 mil. a year.

I love Gute's aggressiveness, but he may regret this whole Dump Jordy - Sign Jimmy situation after season 2018.

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worztik's picture

March 16, 2018 at 09:08 am

If he plays well, we’ll all be “what a great move by BG” and if he doesn’t, well I guess we’re used to that. I do not like the signing but, who am I to say?

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