There is no question that the most frequent first-round NFL busts come in the form of a defensive lineman.
With the 13th overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles decided on LB/DE Brandon Graham, a first-team All-American out of the University of Michigan. Graham was a very highly-touted first-round prospect in 2010 after he lead all of the FBS in tackles for loss.
Well, at the tail-end of a forgettable rookie season in 2010, where Graham recorded just 13 total tackles and three sacks in 13 games, the former Wolverine tore his ACL in Week 14 against the Dallas Cowboys. Graham was not able to return to action until midway through 2011 when he did next to nothing in just three games.
It was certainly starting to look more and more like Graham was going to fall into the endless sinkhole of glorified defensive linemen who could not live up to expectations.
But following Week 12 of last year’s 2012 season, Graham received a blessing from the football gods when the Eagles decided to cut former All-Pro DE Jason Babin.
Graham wasted no time in capitalizing on Babin’s release, recording 6 tackles and 1.5 sacks in Week 13 against the division-rival Cowboys in his first game following the vet’s departure. Two weeks later, Graham topped his debut with another 6 tackles and a wildly impressive 2.5 sacks against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15.
The word is that Graham is looking really good so far this off-season, and is making a smooth transition to outside linebacker due to his superior athletic ability. Graham has all of the physical tools and instincts necessary to succeed in the big leagues, now he just needs to prove his worth each and every week on game-day.
If Graham is able to stay healthy in 2013, I expect the former first-round treasure to finally have a huge year and help lead the Eagles’ stagnant defense back to NFL prominence.