Philadelphia Eagles Outside Linebacker Brandon Graham is 6’2″, 265lbs, yet he is almost invisible. No one knows exactly what the Eagles organization plans for Graham, but it seems clear that Graham is an expendable piece to their Defense. Brandon Graham has had a roller coaster ride in his young NFL career. He was a 1st round draft pick, impressive Rookie season, major injury in his 2nd season, fighting for playing time in his 3rd season and a switch from a 4-3 Defensive End to a 3-4 Outside Linebacker in his 4th year.
Through all the trials and tribulations that Graham has experienced during his time in the National Football League, one thing is for certain, he has never been a distraction. Graham has never complained about his contract. Graham has not been offered a contract extension. Graham has never complained about not being a full time starter, but he has voiced that he would like a larger role on the Eagles Defense.
When the Eagles switched from a 4-3 Defense to a 3-4 Defense, two players looked to have the “most to learn,” Defensive Ends, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham. Graham is a Pass-Rusher, that is his specialty, but he has never dropped into coverage as an Outside Linebacker. Despite the rumors that Graham was the odd man out, the Eagles kept Graham and while he didn’t have a huge role last season, he has had very strong 2012 & 2013 seasons as a disruption player. In fact, Pro Football Focus rated Brandon Graham as one of the best Pass Rushing Outside Linebackers based on his playing time during each of those seasons.
Being an avid football fan I understand that to be an Outside Linebacker in today’s NFL, you need to be able to drop into coverage occasionally. This is not a strong suit for Graham, but when I think about that on a base level, is that any worse than Trent Cole dropping into coverage? That is not a dig at Trent Cole, I love his playing style and I hope he retires as an Eagle, I am just pointing out they both are above average at rushing the Quarterback and lower level coverage players. My question is, what happens when a player might not be the best coverage Outside Linebacker, but consistently provides pressure (in limited playing time) on a Defense that lacks large amounts of Defensive Pressure?