My how the fans have soured on Brandon Graham. Just about a year ago everybody loved Brandon Graham (and rightfully so) but now everyone is seemingly down on Graham’s prospects. People are looking back and saying “We picked the wrong guy”, “We reached” or “He’s a bust”. Well, those people are wrong. No one could have foreseen the torn ACL injury, that isn’t the fault of Brandon Graham or any talent evaluator. Just bad luck.
We did not reach on Brandon Graham. We took him with the 13th pick and we had to jump the New York Giants to get him. There were 3 defensive ends picked in the next 4 picks. Andy Reid said in his press conference that he thought he had to jump the Giants because they “kind of liked” Graham. The Titans picked Derrick Morgan but Jim Washburn conceded that “Graham was his number one guy” in that draft. We didn’t reach, it’s as simple as that.
Brandon Graham was rated as the 19th best player in the draft by NFL Draft Scout and Mike Mayock had him rated as the #1 defensive end in the draft. Daniel Jeremiah, an NFL scout, dabbled in the draftnik game after leaving his team and he had Brandon Graham as his #1 defensive end and also noted that numerous teams felt the same way (Jeremiah is now an area scout with the Eagles). Greg Cossell also called Brandon Graham the “best all around defensive end in the draft”. As soon as Brandon Graham was taken, many NFL pundits and experts declared that he was their pick for defensive rookie of the year.
Brandon Graham was the senior bowl MVP. Brandon Graham was the heart and soul of the Michigan Wolverines in his last two seasons. In his last two seasons he put up 20.5 sacks and 46 TFL. He was a first team all-american in 2009. He led the entire country in TFL in 2009. He was named co-MVP of the entire Big 10 conference in 2009. He was as decorated a defensive end as you could get.
People try and pretend that Brandon Graham was simply a “high motor” player, they couldn’t be more wrong. Do you know how many drills Jason Pierre-Paul tested better in than Brandon Graham? One, the broad jump. They ran the same 40 yard dash, Brandon Graham had more bench press reps, had a better 10 yard split, a better vertical jump, a better 20 yard shuttle time and a better 3 cone drill time. Brandon Graham was a good athlete, a VERY good athlete.
People say that he had “t-rex arms” but those people fail to realize that Brandon Graham’s arms are the same length as Dwight Freeney’s, Osi Umenyoria’s, Trent Cole’s, Lamarr Woodley’s, Terrell Suggs’, Robert Mathis’, Jason Babin’s, Elvis Dumerville’s, Shawne Merriman’s, Clay Matthews’ and Jared Allen’s.
People saying these negative things are clearly forgetting his rookie year. In his rookie year he had 3 sacks, 7 QB hits and 27 QB hurries in just 273 pass rush snaps according to ProFootballFocus. Those numbers were good for the highest pass rush productivity rating of any rookie in the NFL in 2010. Trent Cole added in that he sees greatness in Brandon Graham. And this past season Brandon Graham put up 5 QB hurries in 28 pass rushing snaps, making him 6th in the NFL in pass rush productivity amongst players who had more than 20 pass rushing snaps.
Picking Brandon Graham wasn’t a mistake. He was a polished and productive defensive end from a big time school that had really good athleticism; he was ready to go out of the box. Picking Brandon Graham over Jason Pierre-Paul, the raw player who had mediocre production at a mid-major school, was the right pick.
Brandon Graham is a 24 year old player who has been in the NFL for 2 years and he unfortunately tore his ACL. Plenty of players have come back from ACL injuries, the most notable defensive end is Chris Clemons who has put up every single one of his career sacks after tearing his ACL. Brandon Graham is a year and a half removed from his injury and he’s supposedly 100% and as light as he has been since he’s been in the NFL. Brandon Graham now weighs 255 pounds and he is working out at Michigan with fellow Michigan alumni, LaMarr Woodley. Prepare for a great year.