Huard: Seahawks’ Jimmy Graham can’t do what Rob Gronkowski does through contact
New England’s Rob Gronkowski is arguably the best tight end in the NFL, and Seattle’s Jimmy Graham is never far behind in the conversation.
But while both have the ability to take over a game with their combination of size, catching ability and athleticism, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard said Gronkowski’s huge performance in the Patriots’ AFC title game loss to Denver on Sunday included many instances of something that sets him apart from Graham.
“The thing that I have yet to see with my eyes, either in the matchups that Jimmy had against Seattle (with New Orleans) when they were playing in big games, or in the eight games last season, Gronk does it through contact,” Huard said during the “Blue 42” segment of “Brock and Salk.”
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Gronkowski certainly did a lot through contact Sunday, hauling in eight receptions for 144 yards, including a 40-yard gain on fourth down inside the final two minutes against double coverage, setting up his 4-yard touchdown catch just four plays later.
Huard said plays like that are something he rarely sees from the 6-7, 265-pound Graham, drawing a link to his days as a college basketball player at Miami as why.
“Think of really good basketball players … the minute they get a body on them, it’s just different. They can’t finish. They can still shoot, they still look pretty, they still jump out of the gym, they still run really fast. But can you play through contact? And that is where Gronk is second-to-none.
“Jimmy can’t make those plays,” Huard added. “I at least have not seen those consistently enough, and yet you’re looking at a guy that is bigger, that is faster, that is stronger in Jimmy Graham, but there is just something about putting pads on and playing through contact that, boy, Gronk doesn’t have many peers in this league.”