Friday, April 23, 2010

More on Graham

***

I'll cover Friday and possible targets in a mid-afternoon post.  No reason to do a ton of writing only to have us make a trade.  For now let's take a look back at DE Brandon Graham and talk about that move. 

Was he worth pick 13?

I wrote something in the draft preview that listed Graham as a possible "special player".  I made note that the only key question was about his size.  If a team could be comfortable with a guy that is 6013, 268 then that team might see Brandon as a special prospect.  If he was 6'3, 275 Graham would have been taken 5th, 6th, or 7th overall.  He's a tad short and that pushed him down to the 'teens. 

Andy Reid pointed out in his press conference that there was a run on DEs just after Graham was taken.  The Eagles coveted Brandon and didn't want to risk losing him.  If you feel strongly about a prospect then you are wise to go get him.  Fans may not like the pick or the player, but the logic behind the move is sound.  The Eagles didn't overpay.  They didn't panic.  They found a trading partner that would let us keep both of our 2nd round picks. 

Why DE?  Didn't we get Tapp for this? 

In my mock draft for PE.com I had us taking Jerry Hughes at #24.  People killed me for that pick.  You have to understand our roster and the draft class.  This is a deep, talented group of prospects.  However, there are not a lot of great pass rushers available.  The 2 guys I genuinely believed in were Graham and Hughes.  Kindle had production and character questions.  JPP had character issues.  I'm shocked the Giants took him. 

What about Derrick Morgan?  There must have been some questions with him that the public didn't know about.  Derrick slid 5-10 picks beyond where he was expected to go.  For a guy with solid production and ideal size that is pretty strange.  I don't want to speculate, but it seems like something was up. 

I think Hughes and Graham were the best pure pass rushers.  To go land one of those guys is a good thing.  Pass rushers are gold in the NFL.  Right Jim Johnson?  Right Buddy Ryan?  Right Bud Carson? 

Darryl Tapp was brought here to help us at DE.  He was penciled in at the LDE spot.  Graham now joins the mix.  Brandon played both sides in college so he can backup Tapp and Cole.  Graham also saw time at DT in the Nickel/Dime units.  He can help fill the void left by the release of Darren Howard. 

We now have 3 starting caliber DEs, plus Juqua Parker and Victor Abiamiri.  Parker is older and never has been a stud pass rusher.  He's more of an effort guy.  Abiamiri is coming off surgery and should be ready by this summer.  Still, he's had trouble staying healthy.  You can't count on him.  His best production has come from DT anyway. 

We can now rotate starting DEs in Cole/Tapp with backups in Parker/Graham.  That's a good thing.  We also have some insurance in case anything happens to one of the starters.  Good depth at DE is critical.  The Colts got to the Super Bowl, but Freeney's gimpy ankle killed Indy's pass rush.  Brees shredded the defense. 

I know people are upset that we passed on DBs.  This draft has a lot of good CBs and Safeties.  There were only a couple of pass rushers to choose from.  You had to aggressively go after the pass rushers.  There wasn't much in the way of a good backup plan at DE.  There are still plenty of options at DB. 

Some people have compared Graham to former Wolverine LaMarr Woodley.  They are similar.  Graham is a more natural athlete.  He is faster, quicker, and stronger.  He was also more productive.  In their final 2 seaons:

Graham ---- 71 solo tackles, 46.0 TFLs, 20.5 sacks, 4 FFs
Woodley --- 57 solo tackles, 30.5 TFLs, 18 sacks, 7 FFs


One final thing to consider is this.  Think about the best defensive players that we've drafted in the Reid era (Cole, Bunk, Patt, Stew, Sheldon, Derrick Burgess, Mike Lewis).  Those guys were productive Senior players that all went to the Senior Bowl and performed well.  We've gone after talented underclassmen with real erratic results (Corey, Lito, Matt McCoy, CJ Gaddis, Matt Ware).  We have had some Senior Bowl guys that didn't pan out, but injuries are usually involved (McDougle, Abiamiri). 

Graham isn't a project.  He comes to Philly having played at a big school in a football conference.  He played mainly LDE, what he would play for us.  There are no crazy switches or transitions for him to make.  Graham is a gifted athlete, but is also a smart, highly productive pass rusher.  He dominated as a Senior, leading the nation in TFLs.  He then went to the Senior Bowl and dominated.  He had good workouts.  Graham has passed every test with flying colors.  Great job. 

Now comes the hard part.  He gets to chase Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo around.  He can either make plays or get booed relentlessly.  I'm sure Graham wouldn't have it any other way. 
___

44 comments:

Chris said...

I have concerns about our secondary and hope they get a good safety and CB with the next picks.

I'm not upset with the Graham pick from a talent level at all. He is going to be a handful for anyone now as he isn't getting double and triple teamed all the time.

One undervalued plus for Graham nobody is mentioning. He is supposed to be a phenomenal leader which is something this team lacked last year (just look at what Sheldon and Q were saying last week about the attitude problems). He sort of has a Brian Dawkins type attitude and leave it all on the field style of playing.

Virgile said...

Whether you like the move/pick or not, you have to praise the Eagles for the whole process of getting the guy they wanted from the beginning :

1. Did not bring him for a visit, no report filtered that he was their main target
2. Started rumours that they wanted to trade up for a safety (Berry/Thomas), or maybe JPP.

The Giants (who liked Graham a lot apparently) and or the Titans probably thought that Graham would slide to them 2/3 picks later.

We'll see if they were right to like him, but the whole process was well thought, and well executed.

Prem Prakash said...

Tommy, considering we brought in Tapp, do you thing Graham is being viewed as a guy who will play a lot this year, or more as our LDE of the future? It's not like we used our #1 pick on a guy who is marked to jump right into the starting lineup.

Part of the reason I ask is to try and get a feel for how the FO and Reid are planning for this year. Are they serious that they think the Eagles can make a deep run in the playoffs or are they anticipating this as a re-building year with all the young guys?

Cliff said...

This probably makes Juqua a trade possibility now, too. We usually see his name floated around on draft day as trade bait, but we've got depth at the position now, so maybe we'll see him packaged as a way to move around.

And there are a lot of really good players left that will be available with our early pick in the 2nd round.

Cliff said...

Prem, I know you're asking Tommy, but my thought is that Graham doesn't have to start to have a huge impact this season, especially considering how much we rotate on the DL.

So we'll get all of his talent, without a lot of the growing pains.

Joe said...

I like the fact that he was productive and gave maximum effort on a poor Michigan team. Hopefully he is energized by playing with a perennial contender and lands firmly in the Burgess/Cole side of Reid DE picks and not the McDougle side.

arby said...

I agree w/Cliff that Graham doesn't have to start to have an impact.

Also, I'm OK with the trade today after mulling over the 'impact' or 'special' player idea. That justifies the move. Also, Tommy's point that there were only a couple of great pass rushers but many CB's is well taken. Hopefully, we can trade one of our 2nd's to get a 2nd and 3rd. I'm not sure who is worth the 37th right now........?

Edward said...

I'm getting more excited by this pick but i have no idea how its going to pan out. Super worried about getting a good CB now.

Chris Cook or Nate Allen at #37 please!

izzylangfan said...

What if the Eagles really brought in Marlin Jackson to play corner. They signed him before the Sheldon Brown deal, so why would they undercut themselves by indicating in any way that he was being slotted in at corner. This way who ever they draft at CB presumably with that pick at #37 (since there are some big corners available then while it looks like the safeties will still be around later) will have some time to develop and the Eagles will not have to start him right away. Let Hobbs and Jackson push each other.

You have to like the way the Eagles snuck in at 13 and got the first DE before the Giants picked at 15. They skunked the Giants last year too, jumping ahead to snare Maclin.

ZackISM said...

Anyone else thinking the Eagles trade back with this 37th pick?

The top CB's are gone, the top safeties are gone. Teams in need of a QB - Buffalo, Cleveland - won't want to risk losing the guy of their choice. Eagles move back 4 or 5 slots get the player they want, pick up a mid-late round selection.

Also at what point does the un-productive freak athlete Taylor Mays become a consideration for the Eagles?

I know a number used to love this guy - because he's a crazy athlete, but his production never matched his athletic ability. In the 2nd round is he worth a early pick, due to the fact you are getting one of the best pure athletes in the draft, and it's up to coaching, or do you stay away and draft productive players who need less help?

Prem Prakash said...

@Cliff, Arby

Yea, I agree with you guys. I like the pick and I think Graham has huge potential, especially in the long-run when he will, presumably, become the starting LDE. I'm psyched that Cole may have a stud on the other side of the line.

Still, I wonder how many other teams have a #1 pick whose position on the depth chart is undetermined (other than qbs), and what this means about what the Eagles hope to accomplish this coming year.

Also, my questions to Tommy are to the "greater Tommy" of all you guys, too.

Netherman said...

Could we still make a play to trade for Carolina's Marshal? The way I see it, there are not "step right into the CB" type players available. Marshall is a starting CB and still young. Also, any chance we would bring in Haynesworth? Now that the skins ate that monster bonus and seem serious to get rid of him, he could be a good pickup. Hey even if he goes hard 65% of the time, if that is the 65% he is on the field, this would be a tough line to defend against. Plus, maybe you have a guy who got the payday but now is slightly motivated by the "lack of respect" card.

Cliff said...

@ ZackISM

There are still a ton of really good DB's left. Berry, Thomas, Wilson and Haden are gone. We knew they would be.

We have the 5th pick today, which means we have a great shot at one of these guys:

Taylor Mays
Nate Allen
Owusu-Ansah
Javier Arenas
Morgan Burrnett
Reshad Jones

None of these guys are terribly special, but not of them are terribly terrible either. Not going with a DB in the 1st round makes me wonder if we'd pick one of these guys and ignore S/CB for one more pick:

Linval Joseph, DT
Navorro Bowman, LB
Segio Kindle, SLB

Could we draft Nate Allen at #37 and move back up to get Kindle or Bowman? Do we risk the lack of CB depth to draft a LB?

Also, I continue to think wwe can find very good UDFA's to fill needs at CB. We've done it several times in the past. Why can't we again?

Edward said...

@cliff

If we don't get a CB in the second lots of my lovely treasured possessions are going to be thrown very hard at other lovely treasured possessions. Please don't suggest such horror!

Cliff said...

@ Edward

Just be prepared for it, then. I'll have a similar reaction if we don't select a S, preferably Nate Allen, but the Eagles are thinking VALUE. Kindle or Joseph would be incredible value at this point, right?

I liken this to our selection of Winston Justice several years ago. We had a 1st round grade on him and we jumped at the chance of drafting him to begin the 2nd round.

Fred said...

I have come to deeply appreciate how the Eagles "work" the draft. So instead of pinning my hopes on a particular player (like Nate Allen) or position (CB), I now prefer to sit back and marvel at their aggressive style and insightful, comprehensive vision. I love the way they run the team whether it be pursuing free agents or working the draft or manipulating the media or creating smoke screens or in managing the salary cap. I wouldn't change a thing, except perhaps for Andy's time (and time-out) management. That drives me nuts.

Cliff said...

@ Fred

I'd love to see a day when Andy Reid is just a front office guy. I trust his personnel management, even if it takes a couple seasons to get specific positions right. That stuff isn't entirely his fault (Justice taking forever to pan out, injuries to key draft picks, TO being TO). But sometimes it is (the PR/KR fiasco of a few seasons ago, i.e. "Mahegate").

David said...

The only problem with bolstering the pass-rush is that the corners still need to cover a minimum of 3-4 seconds or all the DEs in the universe will never make it to the QB. Right now I'd rather Kyle Wilson and our 2 3rds back, but I'm hoping Graham proves me wrong.

shari said...

I would think that Nate Allen and Sean Lee are 2 guys we would consider drafting next. Question is whether they're worth #37. We could drop back a bit and probably get either. We'd really screw with the Giants heads to take Lee after jumping ahead yesterday to take Graham...

Mike said...

@Tommy

SO glad we didn't pick Derrick Morgan. Although he was considered the top DE, I was worried that he didn't seem to produce against the better LTs...mainly Bulaga.

Meanwhile, the tap I have seen of the Iowa game, Graham made a first round LT make absolutely silly multiple times.

I love this pick. He is going to be a stud.

ZackISM said...

@Cliff,

We have found a number of very good/servicable DB's in the draft and after the draft. That said I'm worried with what we have on the right side of the defese right now...and can't say adding a UDFA is going to lower that fear.

WILL - Ernie Sims, Akeem Jordan

RCB - Hobbs, Patterson, Demps, Harris, Hanson, Jackson?

FS - Harris, Demps, Jackson?

Anyone truely comfortable with those match-ups?

Anyone really want Reggie Wayne, Greg Jennings, Miles Austin, Roddy White, Michael Crabtree, Andre Johnson and Sidney Rice just having those guys lined up between them and the end zone?

Graham may well be a very successful pick, I have my doubts, and we make select a member of the secondary shortly - but there isn't a single player on the right side of our defense - save Cole that I'm really "happy" with.

AD said...

Graham was my hope pick. I didn't think we had a shot at him. He has dominated the big ten for a couple of years and when he dominated the senior bowl, I thought for sure he was a top ten pick. I love the move, the way the Eagles handled the move up to get him, and the fact we denied him to the Giants, and they messed up their pick because of it...Go Eagles

I would love to hear from Tommy,as to who are we intrested in among the remaining DB's. I have to think Taylor Mays has to be considered. With Jouron coaching him can he be a player?
If we stay at 37 there are other good value players there, that are not DB's, and I doubt if we reach.

Great exciting draft so far, I love the new format, although I knew I would, because I liked the concept.

AD said...

Graham was my hope pick. I didn't think we had a shot at him. He has dominated the big ten for a couple of years and when he dominated the senior bowl, I thought for sure he was a top ten pick. I love the move, the way the Eagles handled the move up to get him, and the fact we denied him to the Giants, and they messed up their pick because of it...Go Eagles

I would love to hear from Tommy,as to who are we intrested in among the remaining DB's. I have to think Taylor Mays has to be considered. With Jouron coaching him can he be a player?
If we stay at 37 there are other good value players there, that are not DB's, and I doubt if we reach.

Great exciting draft so far, I love the new format, although I knew I would, because I liked the concept.

bthackra said...

The last defensive player to win the Senior Bowl MVP: Derrick Brooks. Good company.

#37 should be interesting. Right before the Browns pick. If someone else wants McCoy, they need to come to #37. Extract maximum value Andy.

Difference making CBs off the board. FS manned by servicable guys this year (Demps bounce-back?), I am still very much in favor of BPA. If that is an OL, so be it. If that is DT, so be it. Find the difference makers.

Arno said...

I was suprised by the pick, but except taking Graham away from the Giants, we pushed JPP into their laps. That guy has bust written all over him.

Edward said...

Apparently the Panthers want Colt McCoy. Probably just a rumour but this trade could be fantastic.

Panthers get - Pick #37, Pick #105

Eagles get - Richard Marshall, CB; Pick #48

That'd make me happy. Starting calibre CB and still two second rounders.

Do you reckon that's good value?

Baloophi said...

@ Edward

I'd be all over that. How does the value compute? What "round value" does that ascribe Marshall? We've worked with the Panthers before...

Edward said...

That's equivalent to 194 points for Marshall which is around the 79th-80th Pick i.e. a mid third. I think thats pretty decent value for both teams. Especially as the Panthers would be moving up for a QB. We'll see.

Dollar Brand said...

Interesting first round. One trend I noticed in reading all of those DGR's during the season was how many times Trent Cole had a Good or Great game with just a few ticks on the stat sheet. Cole would rush the throw or make the running back hesitate and disrupt the play. Over on LDE was Okay performance. If Graham's talent can translate to the NFL then maybe we get two Good to Great ends in a game. Right now no one knows but he fits the four year highly productive hustle players the Eagles like on D. I wanted no part of JPP.

Cliff said...

We haven't talked about it yet, but what about Dez Bryant going to the Cowboys with "our" pick?

That's got to be a train wreck waiting to happen. I was shocked to see Bryant get past the Raiders. Not because he's worth a top 10 pick, but because it's the Raiders.

Also, how many times will we hear ESPN call #37 the "Donovan pick?" Good thing I'll be at a birthday party tonight. Hopefully I'll be saved from ESPN's crappy analysis.

Baloophi said...

@ Cliff

I don't think we'll hear it referred to as the McNabb pick because they'll be too busy talking about Tebow... still.

Seriously, has anybody come out on TV to say what a stupid trade that was for Denver?

izzylangfan said...

If you look at a bunch of the mocks the remaining cornerbacks are not supposed to be picked in the top half of the second round. Thus one might think the Eagles could safely trade back and still get their man. But those same mocks have undervalued the cornerbacks in this draft. While only two were supposed to be chosen in the first round - five were chosen. I think the the next few corners might be chosen in the top half of the second round and it might not be so wise for the Eagles to trade back. For their second pick in the round the odds of getting a good safety seem to be with them. Now, if they could only find a place to dump Vick for a third or fourth and quickly sign Garcia.

bthackra said...

Would fans flip if we went D tackle here at 37? Price and Houston are both intriguing. We like drafting DTs. Don't see value on the board with a CB.

Will be interesting to see if anything happens with Vick if Buffalo misses on McCoy/Clausen.

I like the proposed Marshall/CAR trade. Gets us a starter and we can draft another developmental guy to replace Hanson in the slot.

Baloophi said...

RE: DT
As long as we move Laws at some point I won't flip out if we take DT. I'd start to get very nervous about getting a functional CB at that point, and then I'd begin to think the team really believes either Demps or Macho will rise to the occasion at safety.

RE: Graham
Watching the senior bowl highlights of Graham two other players flashed for me - McCluster and Edds. Granted it's one game but interesting. At one point Edds intercepted a ball and pitched it back to Chris Cook... that's a combination I could get used to.

Baloophi said...

RE: DT (again)
Another thought on it - if we're to buy the "it starts on the lines" argument (which makes sense to me), remember how Ratliff ate our lunch? Granted it's a different system but if the Eagles have a guy they covet at DT then okay by me. That said, I don't think we need to spend a 2nd on one, but if it happens at least it's consistent with a philosophy.

bthackra said...

McCluster has been linked to the Eagles by SalPal, among others. Probably means we definitely have no interest in him then. Too bad. He is a fun little guy to watch and tougher than I first thought.

How wide is the gap in talent between the next 5 to 7 CBs? Unless the Eagles love a certain guy, take the BPA.

Myron said...

The problem here is that unless Graham is an impact player, this move will set the franchise back 5 years.

If one of the DBs selected after Graham (Thomas, Wilson, Jackson, etc) becomes an impact player, or even if Morgan and Pierre-Paul become better DEs than Graham, this draft will be a massive failure due to spending two 3rd round picks and the 1st round pick on him.

The reason this will set the franchise back 5 years if this doesn't pan out, or even if Graham is merely a solid player, is because they passed on potential elite DBs when that area is clearly a big need going into the season, and DE was clearly not, due to the existence of Cole, Abiamiri, Tapp, and Parker all on the roster.

I like Graham as a player, but after they traded for Tapp and released Sheldon, I thought it would be grossly irresponsible to come away from the first round without one of the four elite DBs available to them in the first round: Haden, Wilson, Thomas, or Berry. They obviously weren't getting Berry or Haden, but they could have easily grabbed Thomas at #13, or even could have had Wilson if they had stayed at #24.

The fact that the Cowboys got the best WR in the draft for a song makes this even worse. I hate to say it, but the Cowboys are the clear favorite to win the NFC East this year, and in my mind are very strong favorites to win the NFC too.

I know it sounds pessimistic, but the only way this *isn't* true is if a.) Graham surprises everyone and turns into Dwight Freeney, which is pretty unlikely because Graham isn't half the athlete Freeney was coming out of Syracuse and/or b.) Dez Bryant is an epic bust and implodes Dallas from within.

Not looking good for the Eagles.

Kevin said...

The sky is falling!

Calm down Myron, it's April 23 and only 1 round of the draft is completed.

Cliff said...

Sheldon Brown was a 2nd round pick. Brian Dawkins was, too. Asante Samuel was a 4th round pick.

I can keep going, but it'd be annoying. My point is, we can address DB today. We got the best pass rusher in the draft!

We kept him away from the Giants, too. You're worried about Dez Bryant? Really?

Dan said...

Myron that is utterly absurd. The only way you set your franchise back 5 years via a first round pick is if a) you draft a QB early and he flops or b) you trade your entire

You are overanalyzing this big time. We moved up for McDougle, he was a bust, and yet still have made 3 NFC title games and a Super Bowl in the 7 years since. We've had misses in the first round before, and we'll have them again. Virtually every team does.

Calm yourself.

Jason said...

So is the feeling that we would have been better of trading 55 (2nd) and 121 (4th) instead of 70 and 87 (both 3rds)? Honestly, I was not disappointed in the trade at all. I am a fan of keeping both 2nd round picks and I think we can get some quality players with both picks.

Ezra said...

Take a deep breath. Or two.
Take a walk outside. Or two.

The sun will still shine.
The Eagles will still be good. Or great.

Myron said...

Also, Derrick Morgan was clearly the best pass rusher of this draft. I like Graham's tenaciousness and all, but no way is he better than Morgan, imho.

You can also make the case that Hughes is better than Graham.

Kevin said...

Myron, Graham could completely bust out and we can STILL win the Super Bowl if Tapp pans out. While the Saints had good DBs, the Steelers & Giants definitely didn't.