T.J. Graham: Has Buffalo Finally Found a Complement to Stevie Johnson?

Brendan BoskoContributor IIIMay 24, 2012

ORCHARD PARK, NY - MAY 11:  T.J. Graham #11 of  the Buffalo Bills  makes a catch during  Buffalo Bills Rookie Camp on May 11, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

In Round 3 of the 2012 draft, the Buffalo Bills selected T.J. Graham, WR, N.C. State.

Many fans and analysts were a little confused by this selection, especially by the fact that the Bills gave up a seventh-round pick to trade up two spots to get their guy—a guy who Mike Mayock expected to go two rounds later, as stated during his broadcast.

After selecting T.J. Graham, Buddy Nix explained why he'd moved up two picks by stating that he had four speed receivers they felt were worthy of a selection in Round 3: The other three had already been taken, and they didn't want to miss their man.  

I think that the first two guys who the Bills had rated the same as Graham were were A.J. Jenkins—who ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and was selected late in the first round by San Francisco—and Stephen Hill, selected by the N.Y. Jets in the second round.

I believe the third prospect that Buddy Nix and his scouts liked as a deep threat was Devier Posey from Ohio State.  Posey isn't quite as fast as the other guys, but still ran the 40 in 4.5 seconds flat.  He was selection No. 68 overall.  Once he was taken, Nix traded up two spots to take Graham at No. 69.     

After Graham was selected, many fans were less than enthusiastic, and I've heard quite a few fans unfairly criticize him.  

The main complaint that I hear about him is that he's too undersized to be a WR in the NFL.  I agree that he's not extremely large, but he's not that small either.  Most people are pretty excited about a 6'0" 200-lb WR who can run a 4.4 40-yard dash.  Apparently, once a guy is an inch shorter and 10 pounds lighter, though, he becomes "undersized."

DeSean Jackson is listed at 5'10" and 175 lbs. Steve Smith is listed at 5'9" and 185 lbs.  Although Graham isn't going to intimidate anyone with his size, at 5'11" and 188 lbs, size won't stop him from being a successful receiver.  

The other complaint that I hear about him repeatedly is that he'll be able to run deep routes, but he's going to be a one-trick pony who won't do anything else.  Based on the highlight videos of him that I've seen on YouTube, that's far from the truth.  

Graham was a successful kick and punt returner in college.  On many of his highlight-reel plays, he caught a short pass underneath and displayed the open-field ability that Bills fans are used to seeing from Roscoe Parrish.  I saw several short receptions where Graham made a couple of guys miss before turning up-field and outrunning the defense to the end zone.  

Obviously, Graham is raw and will need a few years in the NFL to reach his full potential.  But I see him as a cross between Roscoe Parrish and Lee Evans: fast enough to take the top off the defense, but also quick and shifty enough to catch underneath passes and accumulate yards after the catch.