Continuing our look at some of the players the Jets may have interest in, it seemed fitting to move onto Brandon Graham today, less than 24 hours after his Senior Bowl MVP award, which in turn followed a week of dominant performances on the practise field. A defensive end at Michigan who will be forced to move to OLB if he were to be selected by a team that runs a 3-4 system. At 6'1 263lb's he doesn't have the size to remain as a defensive end in a 3-4, although he fits the mould of a 4-3 end, and I would think that a team picking between 20-30 running a 4-3 will be the ones chomping at the bit. From what I have seen of Graham, Dwight Freeney comes to mind, in terms of size and some aspects of the skill set. Moving to a 3-4, the comparison sits with a LaMarr Woodley.
This also comes following a post of John's in the defensive MVP thread, about a team running a 3-4 relying on the play making ability of their outside linebackers. While we have two decent players in Thomas and Pace, it wouldn't hurt to add another play-maker to the field.
Sports illustrated reported on Graham following the game yesterday:
Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham was named the game's Most Valuable Player after a dominant performance. Graham collected five tackles, two sacks, one tackle for loss and forced a fumble. He was omnipresent for four quarters. On his first sack, Graham beat West Virginia tackle Selvish Capers around the edge with a speed move. Later in the game, he showed his strength while bull-rushing Ciron Black of LSU.
I managed to watch the game yesterday and was surprised by these stats, I'm sure he should be credited with another half a sack. His name was mentioned on almost every play, and the North D dominated the South unmercifully. He showed all aspects of his game, he has finesse moves, using spins (looked just like Freeney doing this), he has a straight burst which helped him get around Capers, and although Ciron Black doesn't have the best feet, he has some serious strength. Graham is not the biggest guy, but he definitely knows how to use leverage to beat the bigger/stronger blockers.
2006- 11 games, 3 tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss, 0.5 sacks
2007- 13 games, 25 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, 8.5 sacks
2008- 11 games, 46 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks
2009- 12 games, 64 tackles, 26 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks
Career Highlights & Awards
- Associated Press Class B All-State (MI) player of the year (2005)
- U.S. Army All-American Bowl team captain (2006)
- FBS tackles for a loss leader (2009)
- Big Ten tackles for a loss leader (2008 & 2009)
- SI.com All-America honorable mention (2008)
- All-Big Ten (First-team 2009, Second-team 2008)
- All-American (1st-team: ESPN, Rivals, Scout; 2nd-team: TSN, SI, WCFF, AP, CFN; honorable mention: PFW) (2009)
- Chicago Tribune Silver Football (Big Ten co-MVP) (2009)
- Hendricks Award finalist (2009)
- College Football Performance Awards Defensive Lineman Trophy recipient (2009)
- Senior Bowl MVP (2009)
More after the jump:
So what does Brandon Graham do well?
He has some excellent moves, and can attack in several different ways. Although he doesn't have the best size, his frame is filled out, he has great power and strength for his size. He uses his leverage against bigger opponents. Has a nice spin move, has some speed and burst off the edge, uses the bull rush. Has a high motor and wraps up the ball carrier, relentless in pursuit. Is a hard worker, loves the game of football, has football instincts and IQ. Has nice lateral movement, uses his hands well to get off blocks, quick recognition of the play, knows what he has to do and rarely gets baited into dropping assignments. Very open to moving positions, and believes that he can do the jobs of a OLB, including dropping back into coverage:
"Right now, I'm in the best position possible for myself as a D end," Graham said this week while preparing for today's Senior Bowl. "If coaches want me to stand up, I can show them tomorrow I can drop back and cover, if that's what they want me to do."
Woodley went through the draft process saying that he wanted to play defensive end, Graham is more open which can only increase his stock. Woodley was drafted as a OLB anyway by the Steelers and he made the transition look pretty easy. His measurable s are nearly identical to that of Graham.
What does Graham not do so well, and what does he need to improve on?
When we are thinking Jets here we are thinking of asking another good college defensive end to transition to the OLB spot and for some people that might be hard to sell, but he is no Gholston. He is not just a work out warrior, he wants to improve and he wants to be the best. Plays with fire. That however may be a sticking point. He has very short arms and could have some problems getting the same leverage in the NFL. Obviously at 6'1 he doesn't have great size, his open field speed has been questioned by some scouts, although personally I think it's pretty decent. If I'm being completely honest, continuing to list weaknesses is nearly impossible and would be really nitpicking.
Todd McShay ESPN draft analyst had some positive things to say about Graham:
"Whether he plays defensive end in a 4-3 or outside linebacker in a 3-4, he's just the kind of guy that seems to get to the NFL and have success," McShay said in a conference call. "LaMarr Woodley didn't come off the board in the first round, so it doesn't really matter where you get picked, it's how you do at the next level. And I think Graham is going to be very successful."
Detroit who have been coaching the North side this week have not failed to recognise his love for the game:
"From the first meeting we had him, I could tell that he loves to play football," said Kris Kocurek, the Lions' assistant defensive line coach. "He likes the game. He has fun. He feeds off other guys making plays."As far as him fitting in what we do, we look for explosive guys on the edge, and I think he's shown some things this week where he's shown some explosion and he has playmaking ability."
I'm sure that any team that is looking at him for the 3-4 will test his coverage skills thoroughly during his pro day at Michigan. I think that it might be like riding a bike for Graham, he played linebacker all his life until he got to Michigan, so the fundamentals should be there. I really have few concerns about moving him from a 4-3 DE to a 3-4 OLB. As you can see from the video below, he has lined up as a 3-4 DE at points, and we could do that on obvious passing downs, watching him, I doubt any are left unimpressed.
Gang Green Nations Other Scouting Articles: