Defensive End/Rush Linebacker
40 time: 4.69
Draft board overall prospect rank: #14
Draft board defensive end rank: #2
Overall rating: 87*
1/30/10: Graham had a huge Senior Bowl week. It started out bad when he measured up at just over 6 feet and with the shortest arms of any defensive lineman, but he really impressed in practice and even more so in the game. He won Senior Bowl MVP with 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, a tackle for a loss, and 5 tackles. He was disruptive on almost every play and had more signature plays than any other player. He really hustled and earned a lot of praise from the commentators. He chased down Jarrett Brown, the fastest quarterback on either roster, from behind, something that will only show up on the stat sheet as a tackle. He’s a former linebacker, with an excellent motor and an excellent pass rushing repertoire, but he’s also extremely stout and disruptive against the run. He can play both 4-3 left end and 4-3 right end, in addition to rush linebacker. The commentators compared him to LaMarr Woodley of the Pittsburgh Steelers and I think that comparison is dead on. I think he cemented himself as a 1st round pick.
1/27/10: Measuring in at just over 6 feet at his weigh in isn’t good, but he’s making scouts forget about his lack of height, with his play at practice this week. He has a very solid base and looks like a legitimate defensive line player in the NFL. His form against the run needs to be improved, but he has shown great speed rushing moves in addition to being one of the best young bull rushers at the Senior Bowl. If he can impress in coverage, he could be a 1st round pick as either a defensive end or rush linebacker.
1/21/10: With 29 sacks in the last 3 years against Big 10 competition, Graham is a pass rushing machine, but despite his size, he isn’t great against the run. He’s best fit as a rush linebacker at the next level and I can’t see him fitting all schemes. His 40 time isn’t great either so he’ll be viewed as a bit of a tweener by the scouts and that could drop him down in the 3rd round. He has first round upside as a rush linebacker though despite his lack of height and timed speed, assuming he can transition to a new position well and hold up in pass coverage.
9/7/09: Brandon Graham is that rare type of complete every down left end. He has strength, an excellent pass rushing repertoire, and good speed for his size. He had 20 tackles for losses last season to go with 10 sacks, a bright spot in a down year for Michigan football. His lack of ideal height will hurt his draft stock more than it will hurt his ability to get to the quarterback. He is very strong. 270 pounds may not seems like much but at 6-2 that’s the equivalent of about 280 pounds from someone who is 6-4 or 6-5. The fact that he could run a 40 in the 4.6s, to go with that kind of strength, is amazing, especially when you consider his track record as a pass rusher. He has 18.5 sacks in his last 2 seasons despite not starting the whole season in 2008. His strength has not really translated to success at stopping the run just yet, but he has size, quickness, and long arms so he’s a decent run stopper with the ability to get better with practice. I’m not sure he can make the transition to 3-4 rush linebacker because of his size, but I don’t think he’s big enough or a good enough fit to play 3-4 defensive end so he should be limited by the number of teams that can draft him. However, Robert Ayers had the same problem last year and was drafted 18thoverall by the Broncos, who are hoping to make the switch to the 3-4 this season. As a pass rusher, he is too quick and too fast for most right tackles and too strong for most left tackles so he creates matchup problems wherever you line him up, though he is likely to line up at left end because of his size. His height can be a bit of a disadvantage because bigger tackles can make it so he can’t see the quarterback, making it harder for Graham to sack him, especially if he is a more mobile quarterback that moves a lot. He has long arms though to push off of bigger tackles to relocate the quarterback and he has great closing speed to compliment his size and agility. With another big season, he’ll be a first round lock and I project big things out of him in the future.
NFL Comparison: LaMarr Woodley
*=For a breakdown of what this means, click here