By Mike Triplett
NEW ORLEANS — Jimmy Graham has emerged as the most dynamic tight end in the NFL this season, which is nothing short of remarkable considering the former college basketball standout played only one year of football in both high school and college before the Saints selected him late in the third round of the 2010 draft.
The 6-6, 260-pounder has been a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses with his rare combination of size, speed, athleticism and desire. But here's the even scarier thought for future foes:
If Graham is just now starting to tap into his potential, what will he look like when he's polished?
"He's going to be the best receiving tight end in the game before it's all said and done," predicted Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez, who currently holds that distinction.
Gonzalez should know a little about the subject matter, being a former college basketball player himself who was able to translate the best aspects of power and grace from the hardwood to the gridiron.
And although Graham won't turn 25 until later this month, he already has joined Gonzalez in an exclusive place in NFL history. They are the only two tight ends ever with four consecutive 100-yard receiving games. Gonzalez accomplished the feat in 2000. Graham matched it from Weeks 3-6 this season.
"I've had small talks with him, and he cares," Gonzalez told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "He's a dynamic player. He's explosive. He's real emotional. He gets into it. He gets it.
"He's going to be good for a long time to come."
Those same thoughts have been echoed by the offensive leaders in New Orleans, guys like head coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees, who have shown an enormous amount of trust in Graham despite his lack of experience.
To read the rest of this profile on sensational Saints TE Jimmy Graham, order a copy of the current issue of Pro Football Weekly. In the latest edition of PFW you will also find columnist Mike Wilkening's take on Tony Gonzalez, who is the most prolific receiving tight end in NFL history. Also, we scrutinize the NFL head coaches on the hot seat and evaluate which franchise offer the best options for potential coaching candidates. And don't miss the Way We Hear It, fantasy football analysis and much more.