Photo: A.J. Guel
It’s important to understand that this ranking is in the present, based on who you’d rather have at this moment in time — January 17, 2014.
How much NFL life does the player have left? Is his position one of value? Sadly the NFL Hurricane Superstar is a dying breed, with all members of this list at least four years removed from their Miami days.
Honorable Mention: Vince Wilfork (Can a man of his size recover from a torn achilles at age 32?), Eric Winston, Chris Myers, Orlando Franklin, and Sam Shields
5. Frank Gore, Niners
Despite an injury-riddled college career at Miami, Gore has been among the best overall backs in football over the last decade. He’s also regarded as one of the league’s best blocking backs, as evidenced by his demolition of Lance Briggs below.
Briggs is listed at 244 pounds.
4. Reggie Wayne, Colts
Mr. Wayne missed over half the 2013 season after tearing his ACL a few months ago. Who knows how much further the Colts would have gotten with this future hall-of-famer at Andrew Luck’s side.
Wayne’s 13,566 receiving yards rank 11th all time. He’ll conceivably finish in the top five pending a full recovery and another couple of reasonably productive seasons. His consistency over his 13-year career has been staggering, including eight 1,000-yard seasons in a nine-year span.
3. Calais Campbell, Cardinals
Calais is continually among the league’s most underrated players. While his numbers are solid, they don’t explode off the page, which hides his productivity among most fans.
Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 2 overall 3-4 defensive end this year — equally stout as a run stopper and a pass rusher. He hurried the quarterback 40 times this season — one less than Cameron Wake. At 27, he’s just entering his prime.
2. Andre Johnson, Texans
After hamstring injuries derailed Johnson in 2011, many thought he was in decline. But he responded with a couple of haymakers in 2012 and 2013, throwing down 200-plus catches and 3,000-plus yards combined to remind his opponents he’s still among the most feared receivers in football. With the Texas potentially taking a quarterback at No. 1 overall in this year’s draft, expect another monster in 2014.
He’s also not afraid to get a little physical on occasion…
1. Jimmy Graham, Saints
The one caveat of Jimmy Graham’s NFL explosion is the fact he just played one season of college football (17 catches) with the Hurricanes back in 2009, after focusing on basketball during his first three years on campus.
With Rob Gronkowski perpetually injured, Graham is unquestionably the top receiving tight end in the league after his latest season featured 86 catches, 1,215 yards, and 16 touchdowns — his third consecutive campaign of at least 85 receptions and nine touchdowns.
For any Dolphins fan preaching the “Jeff Ireland should have drafted Graham” shpiel, sit your oblivious ass down. Picked 95th overall, EVERYONE passed on Graham multiple times — including the Saints. If we redid the 2010 draft, would he fall out of the top three?