The NFL Top 100 Players of 2013 presented by NFL.com, a list compiled by votes from current NFL players, is near completion. Though the list is just a matter of opinion, there has been an absolute egregious omission from the list—New Orleans Saints’ tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham, the catalyst of a high powered passing attack, was inexplicably left off this list.
The list featured eight tight ends: Dennis Pitta, Heath Miller, Aaron Hernandez, Tony Gonzales, Antonio Gates, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis, and Rob Gronkowski. Though each player had a good year in their own respect, Graham’s year was comparable, if not better, than most of his contemporaries. Graham had 982 yards, second only behind Jason Witten, who had one more start than Graham did. And projecting his yards per game average, which is second only to Gronkowski, he would’ve actually eclipsed Witten for most yards. He also added 9 touchdowns which was second only behind Gronkowski. In addition, his 85 receptions were more than the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, and Vincent Jackson.
However, all statistics aside, from a pure football standpoint he should be on the list. He is the number one option in an offense that is consistently in the in the top 3. And unlike the offenses that most of these other tight ends are in, he is the only one in the offense that demands a double team. Gronkowski, who many regard as the one of the best is one of many weapons in the Patriots’ offense. Graham in the Saints’ offense is the only guy who defenses truly need to respect. Witten has Dez Bryant, Vernon Davis has Michael Crabtree, Tony Gonzales has Julio Jones and Roddy White, etc. If that isn’t enough, Graham played this year with essentially one hand. He had offseason wrist surgery after the season was over.
He wasn’t the only one who had a gripe. The only Saint to make the list was Drew Brees who came in at number 11. In the league that is quarterback driven, a player as good as Brees should never be left out of the top and maybe even the top 7. The list also had omission of some New Orleans regulars like All Pro guard Jahri Evans and Mr. Consistency Marques Colston. Maybe it was the overall stigma against the Saints from the bounty scandal that left Graham and others off the list. Or maybe it was their disappointing 7-9 season. Whatever the case may be, all this list tells me is that playing in the NFL doesn’t give you automatic expertise on football. Otherwise, the best tight end in the league would have, at the very least, made the list.