Tag:Brandon Graham
Posted on: September 8, 2010 9:06 pm

'Tis the season, so here are my NFL predictions

My CBS collegeagues Clark Judge and Pete Prisco made their NFL predictions here and here .

I thought I'd chime in with my thoughts, as well.

AFC East: Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, Bills
AFC North: Ravens, Bengals*, Steelers, Browns
AFC South: Colts, Texans*, Titans, Jaguars
AFC West: Chargers, Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos

NFC East: Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, Redskins
NFC North: Packers, Vikings*, Lions, Bears
NFC South: Saints, Falcons,* Panthers, Buccaneers
NFC West: 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks, Rams

*Wildcard teams

Super Bowl pick: Packers over Ravens

MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers. Most talented combination of QB, skill position and OL. He's a strong, strong favorite in my mind.
Offensive Player of the Year: RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings. Favre struggles this time, so Viks are forced to rely on AP (who gets over the fumblitis). 
Defensive Player of the Year: ILB Patrick Willis, 49ers: When Willis leads the league in tackles this time (he did in 2010), fans will notice as the 49ers will run away with the NFC West (and potentially a bye).
Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers. Mathews has talent and Norv Turner is going to give him every opportunity to be a star.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: DE Brandon Graham, Eagles. Perfect fit for this defense. Watch out for Oakland MLB Ro McClain too. Another perfect fit.
Comeback/Breakout Player of the Year: WR Mike Williams, Seahawks. Remember this guy? Pete Carroll does. I've seen it myself . Williams is back.
Stepback Player of the Year: RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants. I considered Favre, but he's too easy of a target with Sidney Rice's injury. Jacobs looked washed up last year and in the preseason. With the Giants giving Ahmad Bradshaw the nod, Jacobs could disappear in 2010.
Team on the Rise: Dolphins. Solid running game, Henne has the arm to keep Brandon Marshall focused, and DC Mike Nolan is among the best in the biz.
Team on the Decline: Bears. Spent their free agent millions on positions of relative strength, rather than their gaping weakness (OL).
Best Free Agent Pickup: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lions. Love this player for this team. Steady vet helps Suh make this D formidable.
Worst Free Agent Pickup: WR Antonio Bryant, Bengals. Considering he's already off the team, how can there be a worse move?
Posted on: March 5, 2010 11:27 am

Brandon Graham (injury) won't work out March 12

Michigan pass rusher Brandon Graham, NFLDraftScout.com's top rated outside linebacker, will not be able to work out at Michigan's upcoming Pro Day March 12 due to a strained hamstring. He strained the hamstring while running his second attempt at the 40-yard dash at the Combine. He was credited with a 4.72 on his first attempt and lifted 225 pounds 31 times in his only other drill.

Graham, 6-1, 263 pounds, instead, is going to hold an individual pro day April 8 on the Michigan campus.

Graham is the first two-time MVP in Michigan's storied history. He totaled 138 tackles, 56 tackles for loss, 29.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and three pass breakups, earning all-conference accolades after the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Graham was arguably the most dominant player on the field throughout the Senior Bowl practices and earned MVP honors during the game, itself.

Depsite the fact that Graham has already proven his ability on the football field, his workout could be very important in determining his final draft grade. Like former Michigan standout defensive end LaMarr Woodley, Graham is being projected to outside linebacker by many clubs operating out of the 3-4 scheme.

Perhaps what I, personally, like best about Graham is that he brings the same tenacity as a pass rusher that Woodley brought. Like his former teammate, Graham seems capable of making his biggest plays in the most critical moments.

As long as he is able to prove he can handle the change of direction necessary for occasional pass coverage, I expect Graham to be a first round pick and an immediate impact defender for a 3-4 club.
Posted on: January 30, 2010 8:36 pm

Senior Bowl a microcosm of draft -- DL dominates

All year long we've talked about the dominance of this year's defensive line crop and in the 2010 Senior Bowl that dominance came through. While offensive lines are often at a significant disadvantage in all-star games due to the lack of cohesion they've been able to establish, the fact that so different defensive linemen were able to make big plays in this game speaks to the relative talent on that side of the ball.

Consider that:
  • Michigan DE Brandon Graham won MVP honors with 5 tackles, 2 sacks, a TFL and a forced fumble.
  • Murray State DE Austen Lane scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery
  • Purdue DT Mike Neal, Troy DE Cameron Sheffield, Georgia DT Geno Atkins, Tennessee DT Dan Williams, Alabama DT Terrence Cody, and California DE Tyson Alualu all either posted a sack, a tackle for loss or both.
  • The DL likely to be drafted highest from the game, Penn State's Jared Odrick, and the DL that had likely improved his stock the most this week, Arkansas State DE Alex Carrington, did not record a sack or TFL, though each played well. 
We all know the talking heads are going to focus on the "skill positions" during draft coverage over the next few months.

The savvy draft fans out there know that the real talent in this draft, however, lies along the defensive line.
Posted on: January 27, 2010 1:48 pm

Graham, Odrick star; Carrington, Lane moving up

In the offensive line writeup I posted earlier, I tried to focus on the smaller school prospects. Iupati and DuCasse have not only proven to be the most intriguing athletically, they're players most aren't familiar with.

No discussion of the North defensive line could begin without first mentioning the dominant play today from Penn State's Jared Odrick and Michigan's Brandon Graham. Odrick simply abused whoever was placed in front of him today, blowing past Zane Beadles and Shawn Lauvao. Graham's speed and strong hands had former Notre Dame tackle Sam Young (6-8, 305) spinning in pass drills and struggling to handle the 6-1, 263 pound Graham.

Big Ten fans wouldn't have been surprised -- and neither were scouts -- who view the conference's best defensive linemen as sure top 50 selections.

Two defensive ends moving up the charts this week are less known throughout the country -- Arkansas State's Alex Carrington and Murray State's Austen Lane.

Each pass the eyeball test at 6-5, 284 pounds and 6-6, 267 pounds, respectively.

Carrington is the stronger, stouter player against the run. He has enough burst upfield to challenge the offensive tackle and has strong hands to stack and separate. He lacks the burst to close to ever be more than a complimentart pass rusher, but is one of the more impressive all-around defensive ends of this class. Scouts love that he can play end in the 3-4 as well as the 4-3. He even lined up at defensive tackle and nose guard, at times, today.

Lane doesn't yet have Carrington's strength, but is a more fluid pass rusher. He has a surprising burst off the snap for a man his size and shows an intriguing array of pass rush technique for a small school player. He was particularly impressive against fellow small-schooler Vladimir DuCasse. On one of his more impressive plays, Lane burst off the snap to pressure DuCasse's outside shoulder, then re-directed back inside, ripping through DuCasse's hands to gain get the tackle's hands off of him. DuCasse, to his credit, remained balance and squarely in front of Lane, but a quick spin back outside showed an extra gear that the UMass lineman wasn't expecting.

Lane has to improve his strength and recognition (he repeatedly bit on the play-action and crashed downfield, losing contain), but a year in an NFL weight-room could see this kid develop into a legitimate NFL starter.

Don't be surprised if Carrington and Lane join Odrick and Graham as top 50 selections...
Posted on: January 27, 2010 1:25 pm

Impressions of the North OL

In my second day of scouting the North squad, I elected to focus on the big men in the trenches, paying special attention to the so-called "small-school" offensive linemen.

Idaho's Mike Iupati is beginning to prove to the rest of the country what NFLDraftScout.com has been saying all year long -- he's the best guard in the 2010 draft and a potential first round pick.

Iupati has surprisingly quick feet and balance for a man of his size. The leverage issues that had occasionally come up on film are being corrected by the Detroit Lions staff. His great strength and quick hands allow him to control his opponent easily. He showed good recognition when the North defensive line began running twists, sliding quickly to switch off from the defensive tackle to the hard-changing defensive end.

Massachusetts' Vladimir DuCasse has great potential, but he is still far from a finished product. He's quick into his pass set, but too quickly stops moving his feet and, as such, is susceptiple to speed rushers and spins back inside. The Detroit Lions staff kept the game's best pass rusher, Michigan's Brandon Graham,  operating on the other side, as DuCasse had more than enough to handle operating against Murray State's Austen Lane. His long arms, good bend and strong anchor mean he should be able to help immediately at guard with longterm potential to move back outside to tackle.

Considering the bowl success, Utah is far from a small school, but Zen Beadles struggled badly today at right guard. The former left tackle hasn't shown quick enough feet or strong enough hands to handle a strong rotation at defensive tackle that included Penn State's Jared Odrick and Louisiana Tech's D'Anthony Smith. Odrick, in particular, owned Beadles on this day.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com