Once in a while, you run across a story that makes you laugh a little bit. The story of Packers TE Jermichael Finley, who recently "analyzed" Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, falls into that category. Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News writes:
Though Finley told ESPN Milwaukee on Wednesday that he still has much work to do to get to the highest level of the position even after a good 2011 season, he also admitted he's not completely sold on two other young tight ends who are considered to be the new class at the position.
"I know Gronk and Jimmy Graham - they did well last year," Finley said. "But in this league, you've got to do it consistently. If you've shown that you can do it one time, you have to come back and do it.
"They're going to have to show me something. I'm not trying to beat them or see what I can do better than them, but they're going to have to show me a little more."
It's not as if Jermichael Finley has proven to be a consistent player at the tight end position. He had 55 catch seasons in 2009 and 2011, along with seasons of six and 21 receptions in 2008 and 2010 (although he was injured for most of 2010). Don't get me wrong, Finley is a really good receiving tight end who only has room to grow, but it's not as if he's better than either Gronkowski or Graham. In fact, Gronkowski's 17 receiving touchdown in 2011 are greater than Finley's four year total of 15. As Sporting News points out, Finley's 11 drops in 2011 was greater than the combined number of 10 from both Gronkowski and Graham.
While I do agree that Gronkowski and Graham need another year of consistent high-level production, their 2011 performances both built productively of their impressive rookie campaigns. If they can continue to improve, both have the opportunity to re-define the tight end position, much like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates have in the last decade-plus. Jermichael Finley will have a chance in 2012 to join the elite ranks of the fore aforementioned tight ends, but he should probably be more focused on becoming more consistent himself.