Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Players Poised For Breakout Seasons

3 of 6

Nov 10, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Brandon Graham (55) knocks the ball loose from Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Graham

That’s right, following an impressive 2014 season in a reserve outside linebacker role, Graham is ready to explode onto the scene in 2015. He was stuck behind starters Connor Barwin and Trent Cole for the team’s first two seasons in the 3-4 scheme but now that Cole has left town, Graham will be a full-time starter. Kelly and the Eagles clearly think highly of him, rewarding him with a four-year, $26 million contract this offseason.

But if Graham can keep up the pace he played with as a rotational player, as a starter, that contract could very well end up looking like a steal. He was one of the league’s best pass rushers at the 3-4 outside linebacker position, according to popular football analytic’s site, Pro Football Focus. In fact the site is so high on Graham’s abilities, that he was named to their “Top 101 of 2014” list following his performance in a rotational role this past season. Here’s what they had to say about Graham on their list:

"74. Brandon Graham, ED, Philadelphia Eagles (Unranked) Imagine where Graham might have got to if he had played more than 524 snaps? That was really the only thing holding back a man who finished with the fourth-highest grade of all 3-4 outside linebackers who was especially productive rushing the passer. We’re excited to see what he can do with a path to more snaps in 2015, because if he maintains his 2014 work over a larger sample size watch out the top of the list. Best Performance: Week 1, JAX @ PHI, +3.5 Key Stat: His 17.0 Pass Rushing Productivity score was the best in the league."

As you can see, they’re even excited about the idea of Graham having a full-time role in the Eagles’ defense. His entire career, Graham has widely been labeled as a “bust” and famously among Eagles’ fans as “not Earl Thomas” but he can quiet all of his doubters with a breakout season in 2015. Assuming Graham stays healthy and holds onto the starting job, he should easily rack up at least 10 sacks and finally get the credit he’s been looking for in the NFL.

Next: Byron Maxwell