With the 15th pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the New York Giants select defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
That’s how the following sequence played out on draft day, and through two seasons, here’s a look at their respective statistics:
Graham has played in 16 games, starting six. He’s recorded 17 tackles, three sacks, and two forced fumbles.
Pierre-Paul has played in 32 games, starting 12. He’s recorded 89 tackles, 21 sacks, 13 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and one safety. He was named a Pro Bowler and a First-Team All-Pro last year, and he collected 15 tackles and 0.5 sacks in four postseason games as the Giants shocked the world by defeating the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl.
Now to be fair, it’s Graham who suffered a torn ACL in week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys, which ended his rookie season. He had shown flashes of potential but everything went downhill from the ACL injury.
The 2011 season was brutal for Graham. He started on the PUP list and wasn’t completely healthy all year. Look at his numbers (three games, zero sacks) and you can tell. And that’s the year Pierre-Paul really established himself as a force in the National Football League.
The difference between the two is so mammoth that it has even led Graham to refer to himself as a bust. Yeah, he really has said that.
So throughout training camp, Graham has played like a man on a mission. He’s clearly intent on proving himself as a viable starter and not a bust. He’s also taken advantage of the injuries to both starting defensive ends, Trent Cole and Jason Babin, and he’s been excelling while working with the first-team defense.
Graham knows that this is the year for him. If he doesn’t perform in 2012, he could easily be cut after the season. He did okay as a rookie and he has an excuse for the 2011 season. But now it’s time for him to perform on the field.
Look for Graham to come through. I really believe that. There’s a reason why the Eagles drafted this guy in the first round. He’s also working with Jim Washburn, arguably the best defensive line coach in the league.
Graham isn’t going to start this season and I think he knows that. But imagine if he could develop into a player of Pierre-Paul’s caliber, giving the Eagles Cole, Babin, and Graham as their top three defensive ends. That would be unbelievable.
This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for the Philadelphia Eagles and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.