Jimmy Graham

Training Camp Preview: Saints

Biggest Question Mark: Pierre Thomas
Despite rushing for over 100 yards just once, Thomas was arguable one of the most productive running backs in the game. But is he capable of taking on a bigger role? The loss of Mike Bell means Thomas will be asked to take on a more prominent role in the offense.

Jan. 16, 2010 - NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, UNITED STATES - epa01991482 New Orleans Saint Pierre Thomas (L) gets tackled by Arizona Cardinal Calais Campbell (R) in the second quarter of their playoff National Football League game at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA 16 January 2010. The Saint beat the Cardinals 45 to 14, advancing to the NFC Championship next week.

Is Thomas ready to take on a larger role in the Saints offense?

Position Battle to Watch: Strong-Side Linebacker
Scott Fujita was a mediocre linebacker for the Saints in 2009. He’s now in Cleveland and the Saints didn’t make any significant attempts to replace him. As a result, JoLonn Dunbar and Clint Ingram will battle for the starting job. In neither player steps up, the position could be a significant weakness for the Saints.

Impact Rookie: Jimmy Graham
Graham enters camp penciled in as the third-string tight end, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have a significant impact on the field. Graham’s athleticism allows the Saints to draw up plays that neither Jeremy Shockey nor David Thomas are capable of running. If used in isolated situations, Graham could be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Saints Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Saints

This was a strange draft for the Saints, and it got off the bizarre start with the selection of Patrick Robinson in the 1st round. I like Robinson, perhaps more than most even, but I don’t see why the Saints wanted him with their first selection. Jabari Greer had a very solid season, Tracy Porter came on strong in the playoffs and they spent their 2009 1st-round pick on Malcolm Jenkins. The addition of Robinson creates a crowded secondary in New Orleans.

I think Charles Brown will be a steal in the late 2nd round. I certainly don’t fault them for landing a potential left tackle that late in the draft. However, I am shocked that they didn’t spend either of their first two picks on a defensive end or outside linebacker. Their run defense was a disappointment in 2009, and if they’re going to repeat as champs in 2010 they need to address that hole.

Jimmy Graham has a ton of upside and he’s in a perfect situation in New Orleans. He’ll be able to take a backseat to fellow Hurricane Jeremy Shockey early in his career while he continues to learn the position. The former basketball player has a long way to go before he’s ready to start, but they could potentially use him as a receiver in favorable situations, specifically in the red zone, early on.

Al Woods was a great 4th-round pick. Their interior defensive line struggled at times in 2009 and Woods will provide some much needed depth. His career at LSU was a bit of a disappointment, but he has the talent to be a steal. He was worth the risk where the Saints landed him.

Matt Tennant was one of the best picks in the draft in the 5th round or later. Its rare that you take a guy in the 5th round and immediately view him as a future starter, but Tennant has an excellent chance to replace Jonathan Goodwin at center in a year or two.

A lot of people soured on Sean Canfield after he struggled at the Senior Bowl, but I decided to stay on the bandwagon. I loved the progress he made throughout his career. While he may not have elite arm strength or accuracy, I think he has enough skills and the smarts to develop into a quality quarterback. He has a decent shot at beating out Chase Daniel for the backup job in 2010.

I really don’t hate any of the Saints picks, so I can’t give them a poor grade. However, I don’t understand how they managed to go through the draft without adding a single linebacker or defensive end. Those are two glaring holes that needed to be addressed. Someone like Eric Norwood in the 3rd round would have been a great addition. In the long run, I think this draft class will do just fine, but they did very little to help themselves in the immediate future.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Saints Comments Off

Senior Bowl Practice Notes: Wednesday

Not surprisingly the third day of practice wasn’t all that eventful. As usual, we’ve got a pretty good idea as to what everyone is capable of at this point in time.

Perhaps the biggest winner of the day, in my mind, was Mike Iupati. Yesterday he split time between tackle and guard and he really disappointed at tackle. Today, playing mostly guard, he was dominant once again. At this point in time I’m willing to give him a solid 1st-round grade as a guard. Its disappointing that it doesn’t look like he can play tackle, but he should be an elite guard at the next level.

Another winner was Oregon State QB Sean Canfield. He’s a tough quarterback to judge, but I came away impressed overall. In drills, he looks very mediocre. His arm strength is average at best and he doesn’t always throw the prettiest ball. Once thrown into game situations, however, he steps it up another level. In 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills he looked very good, consistently hitting receivers in stride. He also looked very god throwing the ball on the run. He ran a number of bootlegs and hit Clemson WR Jacoby Ford a couple times.

Sticking with the quarterbacks, Dan LeFevour has made a strong case to be considered the top quarterback at the Senior Bowl. He’s exceeded my expectations and I’ll be adjusting my quarterback rankings soon as a result. At Central Michigan he rarely threw the ball downfield, which made me skeptical about his ability to play at the next level. You’d never know he played in a gimmick offense based on his performance this week though. He has a strong arm and made a number of great deep passes today including a beautiful pass which he dropped over the shoulder of Jacoby Ford.

Speaking of Ford, he had a terrific day. I really expected him to step up as an elite speed receiver this week but he’s been much more than that. In fact, his lack of speed has been a bit disappointing but he looks like the complete package. He runs great routes and I love the way he adjust to the ball while its in the air. He could end up coming off the board as high as the 2nd round.

Another player I was impressed with today was Pittsburgh TE Dorin Dickerson. I have him listed as a FB right now because I didn’t think he had the size to play tight end, but he’s proved me wrong this week. He is undersized, and it shows in his blocking, but he’s looked very good as a receiver. He even stretched the field a few times, hauling in a deep pass from Tony Pike at one point.

One of the players I was most excited to see this week was Miami TE Jimmy Graham. He went to Miami to play basketball but joined the football team this past season. He has elite size (6’8″) but is very, very raw. He’s looked good at times and definitely deserves a shot at the next level. At one point he tossed Florida State LB Dakota Watson to the ground and later hauled in a deep pass from Tim Tebow that was down near his knees.

A few other quick notes:
- Ohio WR Taylor Price looked shaky today, dropping a very easy pass from LeFevour at one point. I expected him to be one of the lesser-known prospects that stepped up but it hasn’t happened.

- Penn State DT Jared Odrick has been consistently getting into the backfield all week. Today he blew through the line of scrimmage and stuff a draw play in the backfield in 11-on-11 drills. He’s slightly undersized but incredibly athletic for an interior lineman. He would be a great fit for the Colts.

- Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson has been better than expected. He throws a very nice deep ball.

- South Carolina LB Eric Norwood has excelled as a pass rusher. He used a nice swim move to get into the backfield today.

- Kentucky CB Trevard Lindley had a rough day. Mississippi WR Shay Hodge blew past his press coverage in 1-on-1s and Lindley fell down trying to catch up. He’s got a lot of work to do to recover the rest of the week.

- I’m really starting to like Florida WR Riley Cooper. He never really got a chance to star in Florida’s offense because they value speed over size, but he’s looked great this week. He’s got great hands and he knows how to use his body to his advantage.

- Alabama CB Javier Arenas has been shaky. The worst part of his day came when Riley Cooper easily used his size to brush past Arenas and shield him from making a play on the ball. I really think Arenas’ lack of size will limit his ability to make an impact in the NFL.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off