Philadelphia Eagles DE Brandon Graham Must Prove His 13th Overall Draft Selection In 2012

By Frank Benditt III

The Philadelphia Eagles had high hopes for Brandon Graham, drafting him No. 13 overall in the 2010 NFL draft.  Coming from Michigan, Graham tore up the Big Ten with his tenacious pass rushing abilities.

In his rookie season, Graham suffered an ACL injury in week 14 against the Dallas Cowboys.  The defensive end rehabbed most of the 2011 season and even tried a comeback with zero impact.

When Graham was initially drafted, he was slotted as a starter.  Afetr several games in 2010, Graham was benched in favor of veteran Juqua Parker.  Graham managed just one sack and four tackles in that span.  It seemed that he had a difficult time stopping the run.  The Eagles were getting pounded by opposing team’s running games.  Graham’s short arms and lack of size became a hindrance.

Evaluated as one of the best pure pass rushers in the 2010 draft, the Eagles expected a little more production out of the first rounder.  He is not supposed to be a ‘run stopper’, but Graham cannot be a liability against the run.  Additionally, the pressure on the quarterback was not there.

The Eagle’s defensive line coach, Jim Washburn, likes Graham a lot.  Washburn has expressed that Graham is a perfect fit for his scheme.  We will see.

The Eagles have a history of drafting smaller, quicker players on defense.  I am not sure if that is sound strategy, especially in a NFL where most teams deploy two running backs.  Stopping the running game has been a bugaboo of recent Eagles teams.

Many experts expected the Birds to take hard hitting safety, Earl Thomas, with their pick.  They did the unexpected.  Then, the Seattle Seahawks gobbled Thomas up with the very next pick, No. 14.  Thomas went on to have an outstanding rookie season with 76 tackles and 5 interceptions.  Graham went on to finish his injury shortened season with 19 tackles and 3 sacks.

The 2011 season was difficult to evaluate.  Let it be chalked up to ‘injury indifference’.

I actually liked the pick.  I saw the films on Graham and he looked like a beast.  In retrospect, I believe Earl Thomas would have been a better pick.  I am simply not a fan of  current safety, Nate Allen.  Time will tell with Brandon Graham.  The Eagles were hoping for Dwight Freeney ability, not Mike Mamula’s.  If the ACL injury hampers his speed, he will be yet another Eagles first round bust.


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