Silver: If Graham played with average QB ...

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
3:40
PM ET
Many fascinating debates have emerged over the New Orleans Saints' tight end Jimmy Graham in recent months: Not only whether he should be considered a tight end or wide receiver, but also where he ranks among all the top pass catchers in the NFL overall.

One huge plus in Graham's favor -- he has cracked the top 10 overall players in NFL Network's annual ranking of the top 100 players in the league after being snubbed from that list completely last year. Both Graham and Saints quarterback Drew Brees made the top 10 on that list, which is determined by votes from other players around the league. The exact order will be revealed next week.

On the flip side, however, statistician Nate Silver explored yet another element of the debate Thursday on ESPN's sister site, FiveThirtyEight.com: How would Graham's numbers be affected if he played with just an average quarterback instead of Brees?

Not surprisingly, Silver found that Graham's numbers would take a big dip -- especially his lofty touchdown totals. The same is true for all Saints receivers, as well as those who have played with the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, etc.

Graham probably took the biggest dip of all, though. Silver calculated that his average numbers over the past three years would have dipped from 90 catches, 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns per season to 76 catches, 917 yards and seven scores per season.

Mike Triplett

ESPN New Orleans Saints reporter

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