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Falcons player profile: TE Jaeden Graham

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We’re kicking off our Falcons player profile series with a look at the projected starters. We continue our preview of TE with former UDFA Jaeden Graham, who is in line for a larger role in 2020.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We’re in the depths of the offseason here at The Falcoholic, and there has been little to nothing in the way of interesting news in ages. So, we’ll have to make some content of our own in the meantime. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you a new Player Profile series where we’ll take a look at each of the players on Atlanta’s roster. I’ll break down their measurables, past production, and try to project their 2020 season with the Falcons.

We’ll get things started with the projected starters. After a brief stop at FB, we move on to TE. The Falcons had some significant turnover at the position this offseason, with Austin Hooper departing in free agency and TE2 Luke Stocker cut for salary cap relief. Atlanta then added Hayden Hurst via trade and signed several free agents to compete in camp for depth roles.

Today we take a closer look at Jaeden Graham, a former UDFA who had a strong season as a receiver in 2019 and appears to be in line for a significant role in 2020.

TE Jaeden Graham

Age: 24 (25 during 2020 season)

Contract: $675K cap hit in 2020, ERFA in 2021

Career Production: 16 games played | 9 receptions, 149 yards, 16.6 YPR, 1 TD

2019 Production: Same as above

Previous Teams: UDFA signed by the Atlanta Falcons (2018-present)

Measurables: 6’4, 250 | 4.73 40-yard dash | 33” vertical jump, 122” broad jump

The only holdover from the Falcons’ 2019 TE group, Jaeden Graham made a name for himself as a quality receiver on very limited snaps last season. Graham originally joined the team in 2018 as a UDFA out of Yale—there are rumors that Atlanta’s sixth-round pick, Foyesade Oluokun, pounded the table for him. He performed well enough in camp and the preseason to make the practice squad, and remained there throughout the season.

The Falcons brought Graham into camp once again in 2019 to compete for a role on the depth chart. He had pretty stiff competition in Austin Hooper and veteran Luke Stocker, but managed to make the roster as the TE3 due to his upside as a receiver. Graham saw action in all 16 games of the 2019 season, primarily playing special teams but also contributing 9 receptions for 149 yards and a TD. For reference, Graham’s 16.6 YPR was the highest on the team among receivers with at least 5 catches. Graham also added 6 special teams tackles.

While Graham still needs work as a blocker, his talent as a receiver is undeniable. Athletically, he’s very similar to Austin Hooper: above-average in just about every metric with good size, but not spectacular in any one area. Graham has great hands and instincts as a pass catcher, bringing in 9 of his 10 targets in 2019 and pulling off some impressive moves after the catch.

Coming out of Yale, we knew it would take time for Graham to adjust to the NFL. Now heading into his third season, it appears that the Falcons have enough trust in Graham to make him the primarily backup to Hayden Hurst—as they brought in very little competition in the receiving department outside of UDFA Jared Pinkney.

Projection: If Dirk Koetter plans to implement more 12 personnel (2 TE) sets, Jaeden Graham could have a sizable role in the offense as a reliable target for Matt Ryan who can also stretch the field from the slot. Don’t expect crazy production, but around 25 catches for 300 yards and a few TDs seems reasonable.