The NFL won its fight with Jimmy Graham over whether the position he plays is wide receiver of tight end and he hasn’t signed yet. That means until training camp starts there is nothing of interest for us to really write on; we have engaged in hyperbole, theorized over who will and will not succeed, scouted the schedule for the year, and Andrew (bless his heart) is even ranking the top 101 players in team history. What is left to write about? Not much really; nothing except one of the most fun debates in all of sports, but with a Saints centric twist to it. I personally love debating almost any sports related topic, but one of the most interesting is the question: of all the genetic freaks and marvels that play pro-sports, which one is the most athletic? A couple of months ago I actually got into this debate with Andrew when I claimed (like most fans and athletes alike) that it’s LeBron James, Andrew contested that Megatron is more athletic. I think I am right, and I am sure he does as well and that’s half the fun. But you know what’s even more fun? A hypothetical thought experiment where we imagine that LeBron didn’t choose basketball, instead he chose football. Remember he was a star as a receiver too before coming right out of high school to the NBA. If LeBron was a football player instead of a basketball player and we could have him on the Saints… who would we choose between him and Jimmy if you can only have one?
To do this properly we should first take a look at their measurables.
Weight: between 250-270 (listed at 250, but the players I have asked said its way closer to 270)
Vertical: not officially measured, but its well over 40″
40 time: again not recorded, but he can run the length of a basketball court in just over two seconds and that’s 30 yards…4.4-4.6 is a very good approximation.
Stamina: people who have never played at a high level don’t understand how much of a beating you can take playing a basketball game, and LeBron takes more contact than anyone in the league while still being among the league leaders in minutes per game and usage rate (usage rate in Basketball basically means how involved you are in each play and how many plays per game…think of it like a basketball snap count).
Skill: If you look at his total game he is for sure the most versatile athlete in sports within their own sport…he is dominant at literally every part of the game and can play all 5 positions well (you don’t want him as your center, but he can play it periodically).
Weight: listed at 265…probably closer to 270 as well.
40 time: at the combine he ran a 4.56 and he’s probably is a little faster now.
Stamina: Graham plays the hardest part of the field in the hardest impact (non combat) sport there is. He consistently goes over the middle of the field and gets blasted, goes to the line of scrimmage, goes out, and does it again. That takes a huge tole on the body and is equal to what James faces (remember no pads…makes a difference.) He is also a former basketball player and still has the Cardio that basketball gives you as well as the ability to play through foot injuries you develop playing that game. Due to the physical nature of his position I give it to Graham.
Skill: Jimmy came into the league as a raw prospect with great measurables and talent, but had only played the game for a few years. However, in his second year he briefly broke the all time receiving record for his position. He is a poor blocker, but that has more to do with usage and experience than ability to acquire the skill so i’m going to say its a close match between them.
Anyone who watches basketball, even those who don’t like him, have marveled at some of the things James does with casual ease. However, looking at their measurables Jimmy Graham is far closer to LeBron than most people would have thought at first. Graham is not as fast as James and not nearly as quick, but he is thicker and a little tougher than LeBron. The first mistake people who have this debate usually make is putting James at TE because of his size, but honestly his quickness and the kind of balance it takes to play defense the way he does makes me say WR. I could take the easy way out and say forget it, they play different positions I want BOTH. I won’t do that because this is a debate, but personally I would love to see someone try to stop both of these guys on the same field. If I absolutely had to pick which of them I would want on the Saints I would probably choose LeBron just because his physical gifts and ability to rise beyond what others can do is the greatest I have ever seen. He also has a photographic memory and near perfect recall which would allow him to attack defenses and find zones even better than Graham or Colston. With that said LeBron is the greatest basketball player on the planet (it’s not close) and Jimmy is the best tight end in the game today. In a vacuum I would personally take LeBron, however half the purpose of this was to show that the greatest athlete in our era is only a little bit better than our own Jimmy Graham. The guy is a monster and I am glad we have him.
That’s my opinion. What do you guys think?