Grading Graham

Western Michigan v Michigan

You would think after watching Andy Reid drafts for a decade I would finally decipher his tell. Nope. I nailed the trade up with Denver, but Brandon Graham wasn’t even on my list of possible targets. Kinda like Jeremy Maclin last year. Oh well. Maybe I’ll do better tonight. Doubtful, but it’s possible. For the record, I like Brian Price, Chris Cook and Morgan Burnett.

Back to Graham. If you haven’t watched this guy on tape, do yourself a favor and at least check out the highlight package I included in his post. You hear the cliche “nonstop motor” a bunch this time of year. It’s standard coach and draft pundit speak, but if any one term applies to Graham, that would be the one. He’s in the backfield a lot.

One thing I noticed right away was Michigan moved him around quite a bit. He’s a natural left end, but played right end and some tackle as well. No matter where he lined up though, he regularly abused offensive linemen, even when double-teamed.

Add “quick learner” to his list of positives too. After being fooled by some delayed draws, he astutely diagnosed them the next time they were called and blew them up. Like Dwight Freeney, he uses his lack of height and powerful legs to his advantage by getting low on blockers and out-muscling them to the quarterback. And yes, his explosive first step does remind me of Hugh Douglas in his prime.

Listen, I recall being giddy the last time the Birds jumped up to take a defensive end in the first-round. Needless to say, Jerome McDougle was a major bust, due in part to a string of freak injuries, but also because he just wasn’t very good. Fingers crossed Graham exceeds expectations. If he can stay healthy, I think he could be a future star. He dominated college competition much more than McDougle. We shall see.

As I wrote yesterday, I have no problem with the trade up mainly because they were able to keep the 37th and 55th picks. With a pair of fourths, they can get back into the third-round. If they can come away tonight with a quality corner and either a safety, center or defensive tackle, I’ll be pleased.

Although, Dexter McCluster does intrigue me. I wouldn’t be at all shocked if Reid/Roseman snagged him at some point. You can never have enough offensive weapons. Look at Dallas for Pete’s sake. Did they really need Dez Bryant? No, but you can’t pass up a legit talent when he falls that far. See Jeremy Maclin in ’09.

To summarize, I’m warming to Graham, but will temper my excitement until I get some reports from mini-camps and training camp. I will say the Howie influence seems to be at play here. In seasons past, acquiring Darryl Tapp would’ve been deemed enough to bolster the pass rush. What if Tapp, like Chris Clemons, is a flop? Brandon Graham provides insurance.

What surprises, if any, will day two hold? Your guess is as good as mine. No, watch Graham destroy in the Senior Bowl, and remember, he’s not a natural right end.

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Topics: 2010 NFL Draft, Dwight Freeney, Eagles Draft Brandon Graham, Jerome McDougle

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