BBD Staff Writer: Ryan Talbot
The third installment of Buffalo Bills Draft’s six-part Sophomore Spotlight series focuses on 2012 third-round pick, T.J. Graham.
Selected Round 3, Pick 69 from North Carolina State
When Buffalo selected wide receiver T.J. Graham in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, many fans and draftniks were surprised. Graham was coming off of his most productive season in college, but the results were not overly impressive.
In his senior season, he caught 46 passes for 757 yards (16.5 yard average) and seven touchdowns, all of which were career highs for Graham. His four-year totals at North Carolina State were 99 receptions for 1,453 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Some highlights from his scouting report at NFL Draft Scout:
- Fast, quick, decent turning, gets consistent separation.
- True burner with deep speed.
- Versatile enough to effectively handle WR, slot, PR, and KR duty.
- Has a small, thin frame and is a bit high cut in that frame.
- Catching the ball has been inconsistent but improving.
- Can drop easy balls, sometimes body catches, and does not always track the ball well.
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock liked Buffalo’s first two picks, but was not as sold on Graham:
“I had him going in the seventh round. He can fly, though.”
Graham’s speed was clearly what Buffalo coveted. Donald Jones and Marcus Easley were both on the roster when Buffalo drafted Graham, but neither were proven wide receivers.
Buffalo was hoping to find a game-changer at the wide receiver position. Greg Cosell, a respected NFL analyst, compared Graham to Mike Wallace in a series of tweets.
While it’s too early to predict what his career will look like, Graham’s rookie season was subpar at best. There were a few factors to consider in Graham’s rookie season.
First, did Chan Gailey truly know how to utilize Graham? The answer seemingly was no. Besides lining up at wide receiver, you’d think that someone will Graham’s speed would be utilized in the run game on reverses. Instead, he saw one carry in the entire 2012-2013 season.
Next, Graham was brought in for his speed and ability to get behind cornerbacks. There were numerous occasions where this occurred, but Ryan Fitzpatrick could not deliver an accurate deep-ball.
However, Graham had plenty of his own shortcomings that we’ll see in the analytics section.
Games Played: 15
Games Started: 11
Graham’s yards per catch average was 10.4. He also carried the ball one time for five yards on the season. His longest play of the season went for 51 yards.
Week 16 at Miami
None of Graham’s performances on the season would leave you blown away, but his best performance came in a 24-10 loss to the Dolphins. Graham caught three passes for 49 yards. His longest reception of the game was a 41-yard reception that came early in the 4th quarter as the Bills were trailing 24-3. The drive resulted in a Brad Smith touchdown reception to close the gap to 24-10.
The biggest reason that I chose this game was due to him rebounding nicely after his worst game (see below). Graham finished the Week 16 contest against the Dolphins with zero drops.
Week 15 vs. Seattle (Toronto Game)
If you were only to look at the game logs, you’d list the Toronto game against the Seahawks as one of Graham’s better games. He finished with three catches for 32 yards. In 2012, Graham had 10 games where he finished with two receptions or less.
So why was the Seattle game Graham’s worst performance? Drops. Graham dropped four passes in Seattle’s 50-17 rout of the Bills.