Garrett Graham: What Wisconsin Fans Are Saying

We've heard about Kareem Jackson from 'Bama fans, Earl Mitchell from Arizona fans, and Sherrick McManis from Northwestern fans. We now turn our attention to your Houston Texans' sixty-third newest tight end, Garrett Graham. Adam Hoge, leader of men and proprietor of SB Nation's site for all things Wisconsin and/or Badger, enlightens us after the jump.

Mr. Hoge, here's the microphone:

It’s only natural to compare Garrett Graham to Owen Daniels. Both went to the University of Wisconsin, both were selected in the fourth round by the Houston Texans and both are similar in stature. And as good as Daniels has been in the NFL, Graham’s collegiate stats suggest he could be even better than OD.

Don’t expect that to be the case.

Daniels’ success in the NFL never surprised me. While he only had 62 career catches at Wisconsin – compared to Graham’s 121 catches – the Badgers had a plethora of wide receivers when OD was in Madison. There simply weren’t enough catches to go around, especially for the tight ends. But Daniels was always a sure-handed receiving option and no one was more clutch on third down than he was. The tight end screen to OD on third-and-long remains my favorite Wisconsin play-call to this day. There was no doubt in my mind that Daniels’ play translated to the next level and I thought he was a great value in the fourth round.

But ever since Daniels left, Wisconsin’s best wide receivers have been its tight ends. Garrett Graham immediately became the quarterbacks’ favorite target when Travis Beckum – another tight end – left for the NFL. And even though Graham caught 59 more passes and eight more touchdowns than Daniels did at Wisconsin, it was a product of a lack of other options on the field.

That’s not to say Graham won’t be a good NFL tight end, however. Just don’t expect the success that Daniels has had. OD is probably a slightly better blocker, but Graham has improved in that regard over the course of his career. I just worry about Graham sometimes because he would disappear every once in a while for a couple games. In one three game stretch last season he only caught three balls, including zero catches against lowly Indiana. In that game he also had a key drop that stalled a late-first half scoring drive.

Overall, I think Daniels is the more physical tight end with better speed, which is why he can present mismatches against opposing defenses. Graham created those same mismatches in the Big Ten, but the question is, are his talents great enough to do that on Sundays? With hard work, he can do it and it will certainly help to have his friend and mentor Daniels to help him along the way. I’m just not as confident about him as I was with Daniels four years ago.

Many thanks to Adam for taking the time to respond to my query and for suggesting we temper any expectations that Graham will be the new OD. The good news is that if Graham doesn't work out, Smithiak will draft no less than three (3) potential replacements in the 2011 NFL Draft.

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