Ranking the NFL's Top 5 Jump-Ball Targets

Adam OdekirkContributor IIDecember 18, 2011

Ranking the NFL's Top 5 Jump-Ball Targets

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    The fade route, the Hail Mary and the back-of-the-end-zone "elevator" are all plays designed to take advantage of either a height or athleticism difference between receiver and defender.

    NFL teams that boast these advantages will take their opportunities on these plays with every chance that they get.

    Here are some of the best players at winning the "jump-ball" battle in the NFL.

Jimmy Graham

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    There are not many tight ends in the NFL that have designed fade routes where their quarterback trusts just tossing one up and feeling confident that his player can go up and get it.

    Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham have developed that relationship this season in New Orleans.

    Graham may set the record for receiving yards by a tight end this season, and his sheer athleticism is the reason why. 

Larry Fitzgerald

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    What Fitzgerald lacks in size, he makes up for in body control and football savvy.

    Fitzgerald has made a career out of coming down with almost every ball that gets thrown his way. He was a big part of the resurgence of Kurt Warner's career and also the reason why Arizona almost stole the Super Bowl from Pittsburgh.

    Fitzgerald is well compensated for what he does, which is make the most out of every inch of his body and ability. 

Rob Gronkowski

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    If two balls were thrown up for grabs in the end zone, there is a good chance that Gronkowski would come down with both. 

    Much like his counterpart in New Orleans, Gronkowski is a matchup nightmare for everyone, mainly because his size and athleticism makes him impossible to cover.

    Strong hands and an amazing vertical because of his height are the reasons that "Gronk" is seen spiking the ball after Brady throws one up into the end zone.

Plaxico Burress

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    His return to the NFL means that Plaxico Burress is once again one of the most dangerous jump-ball receivers in the league.

    It's been a beautiful sight for Steelers fans, Giants fans and now Jets fans to see Burress elevate and come down with the football for six points.

    He has a mix of athleticism and veteran poise that makes him almost unstoppable when the ball is in the air.

Calvin Johnson

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    Sports Science did a study on Calvin Johnson and determined that he had a catching radius equal to the size of a two-car garage!

    If that doesn't make him the most dangerous jump-ball threat in the NFL, nothing will.

    Johnson is a huge part of the Lions' resurgence in the NFL, and his freakish athleticism will be on display for many more seasons in Detroit.