He turned a lot of heads at Senior Bowl practices last month, but didn't get many game-time opportunities to strut his stuff. But this past weekend, fresh off his one collegiate football season, Miami tight end Jimmy Graham pretty much crushed the NFL scouting combine.
Graham, who exhausted his eligibility at Miami on the basketball team before returning to a sport he hadn't played since 9th grade, wasn't the fastest or strongest in any category. But he tested near enough the top marks to answer the questions of scouts who might have thought him just a really cool story.
"Jimmy Graham helped himself the most of any player today," wrote Daniel Jeremiah, a former team scout who now evaluates players at movethesticks.com. "Explosive and smooth...big upside, creating a lot of buzz."
We'll say. In drills with the other invited tight ends, Graham ran a 4.56 forty-yard dash, good enough for second place and over a second faster than third place; had the third-highest vertical leap at 38.5 inches; tied for second in the broad jump at 10'; and placed second in the 3-cone drill and 60-yard shuttle.
What that tells the NFL is that Graham can explode from a static start, has a lot of power in his lower body, can change directions at high speed, and has considerable lateral quickness. That's good for Graham, because it means however raw his technique is now -- and his blocking is raw like sushi -- he's got the physical capability to pull off an NFL tight end's work if he responds well to teaching and can handle the game mentally.
So how much did Graham help himself? Chad Reuter of NFLDraftScout.com says his 40 time vaulted him into the second round, and some went as far as to suggest if the Dolphins want Graham they need to take him with their 43rd pick.
As much as we'd love to see Graham end up with the home team -- and Tony Sparano seemed to cotton to Graham at the Senior Bowl -- the Dolphins and their nosediving tight end production might not be able to wait the year or two it'll take for Graham to absorb enough to handle NFL defenses. Of course, on the other hand, there's Joey Haynos.
At any rate, whether he ends up in aqua and orange or not, Graham's going to go somewhere, and he will likely be the highest Hurricane drafted. Not bad for a guy who hadn't played football in seven years, an accomplishment for which Graham and 'Canes TE coach Joe Pannunzio should feel really, really proud.
Janie Campbell loves ball park hot dogs and fat guys running back fumbles. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the Internet.