Who To Rep Week 14: Jimmy Graham

Welcome to the fourteenth edition of “Who to Rep,” our ongoing series in which we recommend a player to rep for the upcoming week. Our selection process is rigorously unscientific, but we hope you like it anyway.

Well, that’s about the best win of the season for Seattle. Picking our “Who to Rep” this week was a little tricky, as basically the entire Seattle roster played well, and the two biggest standouts—Bobby Wagner (sneakily Seattle’s MVP) and Russell Wilson (suddenly in the running for league MVP)—have already won the honor this year and are therefore disqualified.

Honorable mentions go to Tyler Lockett (finally logging his first receiving touchdown of the season), Frank Clark (2 sacks), and Bradley McDougal (12 tackles while filling in admirably for Kam Chancellor).

Ultimately, our pick had more to do with milestones than individual production against the Eagles. Jimmy Graham only caught three passes last night, but one of them was good his ninth touchdown, pushing Graham into the league lead for receiving touchdowns. He has two more TDs than the next closest tight end (Gronkowski), and is only two TDs behind the “total” touchdown lead (currently shared by dual-threat running backs Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara).

This is a welcome change for Seattle; in his twenty-six games for the Seahawks before this season, Graham logged only eight TDs. Part of that disappointing production could fairly be blamed on injuries, but his numbers also suffered from a disconnect with QB Russell Wilson.

As recently as the first few weeks of this season, Wilson seemed oddly oblivious to Graham’s height advantage and leaping ability. Rather than throwing the high, lofting balls that Graham can catch seemingly at will, too often Wilson would instead fire bullets three or four feet to Graham’s side, counting on Graham’s length to close the distance.

In Wilson’s defense, Graham usually did close the distance... but bullet-passes don’t play to Jimmy’s strengths. He’s great at finding position, he’s an incredible athlete, and his basketball background and size turn 50/50 balls into something more like 80/20 balls, but he doesn’t have great hands. Earlier in their partnership, Wilson’s missiles were as likely to rocket through Graham’s fingers as they were to find the mark.

That’s all in the past, though; over their last eight games together, Graham’s pulled in 70% of passes thrown his way for 9 touchdowns and a two-point conversion. On the other hand, in the first four games of the season he caught only 56% of Wilson’s passes and didn’t score once.

Luckily for both men, the light bulb has come on, and Wilson is now treating Graham like the lob-finishing former basketball star he is. For his part, Graham is creating those opportunities almost every time down the field, and leading all pass-catchers in scoring as a result.

We figure that warrants a rep.

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