Senior Bowl Q&A: Jimmy Graham

After playing basketball for three years at the University of Miami, Jimmy Graham decided to give up hoops for a potential career in professional football. Scout.com's Chris Steuber sat down with Graham at the Senior Bowl and asked him why he made this decision. Learn more about the rising TE from Miami inside.

Chris Steuber: How are you enjoying the Senior Bowl experience so far?

Jimmy Graham: It’s been great so far. It seems like every time I turn around something positive is happening and everything is lining up perfectly for me. But it’s also a lot of hard work.

The sky is the limit for Graham at the next level.
Miami Athletics

CS: You only played one year of football at Miami, after playing for the basketball team your first three years in school. What made you decide to pursue football?

Graham: Football was the first sport I ever loved, and while I was playing basketball in school I always wondered, “What if?” I wondered, what if I continued to play football? What would happen if I decided to go back to it? I was given an opportunity to pursue it, and I took it. Bernie Kosar was a big help, and he kind of guided me throughout the process. He was honest with me about football and the expectations that I should have playing the sport.

CS: I know that Bernie Kosar went to Miami, but how did you two strike up a relationship, and why did football become a topic?

Graham: We’ve known each other for a little while. Bernie told me, “Jimmy, I think you would be the perfect hybrid tight end.” He said, “You’re so athletic.” So, one day we went into the backyard and started throwing the ball around, and he realized that I had pretty good hands. And then it kind of went from there.

CS: There’s been a few success stories about college basketball players that turned to football after they realized basketball didn’t hold a future for them. I’m sure you were realistic about your future and saw how guys like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates made the transition. Does their success give you confidence that you can also be successful in the NFL?

Graham: Absolutely. I feel like the path has already been laid out, and it can be done. I feel like if it’s done the right way, you’re going to have success. Their success gives me hope that it can be done and that I can also be a special player.

CS: As good as you were in your first year of college football, you’re still raw and learning the game. Is that encouraging for you looking down the road?

Graham: Oh yeah, it seems like each game I play in I get better and better. It feels like each step I take is a new step. It all started for me in the redzone on third downs at Miami, and from there my game took on a life of its own. And I hope I can take my game to the next level in the NFL.

CS: What teams have you met with so far?

Graham: I’ve met with a lot of teams, but a few that stand out are the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, and Cleveland Browns.

Graham is an intriguing pass catching TE, but he still has to develop as a blocker.
Doug Benc/Getty Images

CS: I’m sure scouts are salivating over the possibilities of you catching passes for them. Have you received a lot of meeting requests from teams?

Graham: I feel like everyone has come up to me already. I guess since I’m like the new guy in town, everyone wants to know about me. They want to know about my personal life and everything that goes along with that. They want to judge my intelligence on and off the field. But overall, it’s been a wonderful experience meeting with all of these scouts and teams. Meeting head coaches and GM’s; it’s out of this world. I’m really excited for what’s going to happen next, and hopefully I’ll continue to have a good week here.

CS: The biggest knock against you and most tight ends is blocking ability. How do you improve your blocking technique during a process where you’re being closely observed?

Graham: That’s a good question. I kind of got thrown into the game a little bit. I was just told, “Jimmy, make sure they don’t hit the quarterback.” But I’m a quick learner, and I work really hard. I’ve been working at D-I Sports and have been working on my pass blocking, because I know I have to get better to play at the next level.

CS: You’ve been on the practice field for three days now, who’s been the best defender that you lined up against?

Graham: I had to stretch block on Taylor Mays, and he came from about 20 yards out, so that was pretty exciting. He’s a great player and that was a pretty good matchup. I’d say he’s been the best so far. He’s a big kid who’s real fast and plays hard.

CS: What’s your favorite part about being a tight end?

Graham: The redzone; I feel like I’m unstoppable in the redzone. If the ball is in the air, I know that I will come down with it. I also enjoy third down situations. When it’s third and long, I get excited. I feel like that’s my time, because I know I’m a big target and I get a large cushion over the middle. So if it’s crunch time and a big play is needed on third down, throw it anywhere in my direction and I’ll snatch it up.

 

For more on Graham, click here to read Steuber's profile on the up-and-coming Miami Hurricane.



A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.


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