For years, the NFL’s elite tight end club had two, maybe three members. It was all about Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Jason Witten. Guys like Dallas Clark, Chris Cooley and Vernon Davis have emerged, but no one was able to dominate like that aforementioned trio.
But 2011 is marking the arrival of Jermichael Finley, Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and the guard may be changing at the tight end position.
Today, we’re wondering who you’d prefer between Graham and Finley. Here’s the breakdown:
Jimmy Graham is a 24-year-old former third-round pick out of Miami. He’s in his second season, but only started five games as a rookie and didn’t register a reception until Week 6 in 2010. He could be a better blocker, but he’s a mega-athlete with a basketball background and a big body.
Jermichael Finley is a 24-year-old former third-round pick out of Texas. He’s in his fourth season, but he barely played as a rookie and missed most of Year 3 due to injury. He could be a better blocker, but like Graham, he’s a mega-athlete with a basketball background and a big body.
Who would you rather have on your team?
Career stats: 10 starts, 63 REC, 852 YDS, 13.5 AVG, 8 TD
This season: 5 games, 32 REC, 496 YDS, 15.5 AVG, 3 TD
Career stats: 20 starts, 104 REC, 1352 YDS, 13.0 AVG, 10 TD
This season: 5 games, 22 REC, 301 YDS, 13.7 AVG, 3 TD
The numbers favor the red-hot Graham, which actually helps make the debate more difficult. Because intangibly, Finley probably beats Graham in the eyeball test. He’s received a lot more hype than Graham has.
Both play in ridiculously good offenses with great quarterbacks, similar offensive lines and similar support from their respective running games. But the Packers are far more loaded at receiver than New Orleans is, which has me wondering what kind of numbers each player would have if they were traded for each other. Would Finley have 10 more catches and 195 more yards in the Saints’ offense, which has been without Marques Colston for half of the season thus far?
Sean Tomlinson’s take: This is our closest and toughest one yet. If we’re talking about sheer talent — which we are, partly — I’ll take Finley, who possess better speed and a greater ability to stretch the field. But if we’re talking about their chances of producing long-term in their offenses — which we are, partly — I’ll take Graham, who has the potential to become more of a focal point in the New Orleans offense. Marques Colston is great, but he isn’t the same dominant receiver as Greg Jennings, and Graham is now emerging quickly with 321 of his 496 receiving yards over the Saints’ last three games. That, kids, is how you cop out.
Gagnon’s take: I think Finley has better hands, too, but I’m concerned about the knee injury that cost him most of the 2010 season. They’re both 24, but Graham feels younger, and might be more reliable. I’ll also take him.
So, who would you rather?
Last week’s Would You Rather: Tony Romo or Eli Manning?