I was doing a mock draft on Yahoo! Fantasy Football a couple of days ago, and found myself arguing about the New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham. Graham has been taken in most drafts somewhere around pick 11-20; the second round in 10-team leagues. CBS Sports has his average draft position currently at 22nd - so for the purpose of this article, I will assume he is valued at the No. 22 overall pick.
Great first practice! Feeling blessed to be apart of this team and back working harder than ever! #sweatequity
— Jimmy Graham (@TheJimmyGraham) July 26, 2013
Per CBS sports, the top 5 tight ends currently being drafted are:
No. 22 overall pick
Jimmy Graham is absolutely, unquestionably, the best available tight end in every league, regardless of format. He is not worth the No. 22 overall pick. Here's a side-by-side look at Graham's stats compared to Cowboys Jason Witten over the last four seasons:
Witten is currently being drafted 31 picks after Graham. While Graham's stats are slightly more attractive, they are shockingly similar. Let's take a look at some other similar gaps at running back, wide receiver, and tight end...
Brady; No. 38
Tony Romo; No. 68
Ridley; No. 20
Ryan Mathews; No. 54
Wayne; No. 51
Stevie Johnson; No. 83
The gap in talent at other positions when projecting down three full rounds is massive compared to the statistical difference between Jason Witten and Jimmy Graham. My advice; don't reach for Graham. I know he's never going to fall to the 4th round, so just don't draft him. I've been told by fellow mockers that he's the only "guaranteed 1,000 yard tight end." Only once has he put up 1,000 yards.
Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, and Stevan Ridley are all better options at this stage in your draft. Graham and Gronkowski were the only two of the top 5 tight ends who missed time last year due to injuries. Don't draft your team like it's 2011, pass on Graham. If you can't settle for a lower-end tight end like Kyle Rudolph, draft Gonzalez in the 5th round.
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