After finally getting his contract signed and reporting to Lehigh, the general opinion on Eagles 1st round draft pick Brandon Graham is this: It’s only a matter of time before he’s #1 on the depth chart at LDE.
In Monday’s practices, Graham had his way with T Winston Justice for most of the day. Not only did he do this, but he was also able to get in Justice’s head enough to make him jump offside twice. He broke up a shovel pass, and when he was asked to drop into coverage he was extremely close to having an interception. (To be fair to Justice, he had a much better day today handling Graham.)
A good defensive end is someone who can pressure the quarterback, but a great one can help stop the run as well. When Andy Reid was asked about how Graham was playing the run he stated, “You know what, he’s done very well with that. He’s very strong in the lower body, he’s very strong in the upper body, too. His lower body, he’s got a nice anchor there and good core strength and understands how to use his hands and arms and plays with separation on the linemen.” There are a lot of great running backs in the NFC East alone, so having another guy who can make a solid contribution to the run stop will go a long way.
When Reid was talking about what he’s seen from Graham so far he said, “He looks like he’s going to be a good football player. Does he have some things he has to learn? Absolutely. He is an explosive guy. That you can see and he’s got very good athletic ability and instincts.” A modest assessment, but you wouldn’t expect to hear much more from Reid.
It’s not often you see a rookie defensive end have a major impact in his first season, but Graham could be set up to have one. Trent Cole is one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL and will frequently draw double teams and extra protection on his side. For example: In divisional games against Washington and Dallas Cole will face first time starter Doug Free and rookie Trent Williams each twice this season. This mean’s Cole will see a lot of double teams and extra protection slid to his side, setting up Graham to have more success on the left side.
It’s only a few days into camp, and it’s too soon to be crowning Graham just yet. But we must remember that the team took a lot of flak for taking him so high in the draft, and the important thing is he is steadily turning haters into believers. He’s got to learn more moves. He’s not going to be able to overpower NFL caliber tackles all the time. But if he continues to improve and impress like he has so far in camp, we can all expect big things from this kid.
Training Camp Coverage
Visit InsideTheIggles.com for training camp coverage, including practice recaps and scouting reports from Lehigh Valley. ITI’s Ryan Messick will be reporting from camp again August 5th through 8th. Check back often for updates and follow along on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Ryan_Messick and www.twitter.com/InsideTheIggles.