To put the 2013 numbers of Joseph Fauria and Jimmy Graham side by side is unfair to the rookie. Graham more than quadrupled Fauria's number of catches and receiving yards in the same amount of games. However, the two do share a couple of similarities: Both are 6-foot-7 and have a background in basketball. Add the fact that new Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said his scheme will have things in common with the Saints' offense, and Fauria thinks a Graham-like year could be in the wings.
"I'm not calling myself Jimmy Graham, but I strive to have the kind of production he has," Fauria told Tim Twentyman of the Lions' official website. "I think I can contribute very similarly to how he has with the Saints."
Lombardi knows a lot about Graham; he spent the past five seasons as New Orleans' quarterbacks coach.
Twentyman rightfully points out the obvious: Graham is faster and more agile than Fauria. Players of his ilk don't come in herds. Graham is simply the best tight end in the league. Fauria isn't going to challenge for that title, but he can carve out his own niche, and we saw glimpses of it this season. The dude is big and does a really nice job of using his frame to shield away defenders and high-point the ball. He used those skills as seven of his 18 receptions went for touchdowns. That's an insane, unsustainable ratio, but some more targets could see him hit double digits, and that's something only three tight ends accomplished in 2013 -- Graham, Vernon Davis, and Julius Thomas.
I expect Fauria's numbers to rise across the board next season, but the improvement in the non-TD categories will be restrained if the Lions re-sign Brandon Pettigrew. And right now, that's reportedly something they would like to do.