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2015 NFL DRAFT
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Corey Graham

Height: 6-0 | Weight: 195 | College: New Hampshire
 
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Overview

An electrifying kickoff returner, Graham also provided leadership in the secondary and an athlete that many regarded as the best playmaker on defense in the Atlantic Ten Conference. Graham was on his way to etching his name in the NCAA kickoff return record books in 2006, but missed the second half of the season after suffering a fractured left fibula against James Madison.

Handling a variety of roles on the football field was nothing new to Graham. At Turner Carroll High School, he compiled 2,700 all-purpose yards, 22 touchdowns, 99 tackles and 1,700 rushing yards in his senior season. He was a three-time All-Catholic selection and earned All-Western and All-State honors in 2003.

Graham enrolled at New Hampshire in 2003, starting his final nine games at right cornerback when injuries depleted the defensive backfield. He produced 47 tackles (23 solos) with two pass deflections and gained 54 yards on three interceptions.

The following season, Graham added kickoff return duties to his resume. Firmly entrenched at right cornerback, he recorded a team-high 110 tackles (75 solos), caused three fumbles and recovered another. He led the Atlantic Ten Conference with 17 pass deflections and intercepted four passes, returning one for a touchdown. He also gained 686 yards with a score on 24 kickoff returns (28.6 avg) in 2004.

Graham earned second-team All-Atlantic Ten honors as a return specialist and cornerback in 2005. He finished second on the team with 104 tackles (73 solos) and had one stop for a loss. He recovered two fumbles and batted down nine passes. He returned one of three interceptions for a touchdown and totaled 778 yards with a score on 31 kickoff returns (25.1 avg). He also added 26 yards on one punt return.

Was a team tri-captain and Buck Buchanan Award candidate (nation's top Division 1-AA defender) in 2006. He was having a banner year until suffering a left fibula fracture in the team's sixth game against James Madison. When the injury was slow to heal, he underwent early November surgery to have a crew and plate placed in his leg.

Graham finished his final season with 41 tackles (24 solos) and a forced fumble. He intercepted two passes and broke up three others. On special teams, he gained 323 yards on 10 kickoff returns (32.3 avg), including a score, and returned 11 punts for 102 yards (9.3 avg) and a touchdown.

In 42 games at New Hampshire, Graham started every contest he played in. He registered 302 tackles (195 solos) with a stop for a 1-yard loss. He caused four fumbles and had three fumble recoveries. He deflected 31 passes and gained 185 yards with two touchdowns on 12 interceptions. The Wildcat set school career records with 65 kickoff returns for 1,787 yards (27.5 avg) and three touchdowns. He gained 128 yards with a score on 12 punt returns (10.7 avg).

Analysis

Positives: Productive kickoff returner with natural hands for the interception and the valid foot speed to take any return for the distance (two touchdowns on interceptions, three on kickoffs and one on punts during his career) … Has adequate change of direction agility and is best in man coverage, where he can flip his hips and mirror the receiver throughout the route, but needs to redefine his marginal backpedal technique … Willingly supports vs. the run, but lacks strength to be consistent (only one tackle behind the line of scrimmage during his career) … Has very good field smarts and instincts, as he was charged with making all the defensive calls … Also excels in the classroom, garnering conference academic honors … Reacts quickly once he locates the ball and is very good at diagnosing the plays … Has the hand/eye coordination to stick his hand in to break up the pass … Even though he lacks strength, he is more effective playing in press rather than off coverage, as he does a good job of keeping his hands active in attempts to reroute … Much better running with the receivers coming off the line than when being backed off … Plays the run with good eyes and urgency, making him a nice fit for a Cover-2 scheme … Knows his responsibility in passing situations and has no problems handling the switch-off in the zone … Has the vision to see the routes develop and shows the quick feet and burst to close in an instant … Has the deep speed and long acceleration to stay on the hip of the receivers on long patterns … Adequate in timing his leaps and competing for the jump ball and will not hesitate to stick his hat into the action … Shows natural ball skills and soft hands to make the interception … Works hard to push the outside running game back inside, but needs to take better angles to the ball … Decent open-field tackler who has enough force to strike on contact … Has room on his frame to add more bulk without having it affect his timed speed … Loves to mix it up at the line, keeping his hands active to execute a good jam, but his lack of strength can be exposed vs. bigger receivers … Has the second gear and sudden burst to consistently take the kickoff back for long yardage, and also shows patience waiting for his blocks to develop there … Has the speed to cover ground quickly deep in the secondary … Effective at getting his hands underneath the receiver's jersey to impede the route progression of his opponent.

Negatives: Despite weighing 195 pounds, he has a rail-thin frame with marginal muscle mass in the upper body and thin calves and thighs … Needs to add at least 10 pounds of muscle and continue to dedicate considerable hours in the training room to improve his marginal strength … Will support vs. the run, but with little strength and taking poor angles to the ball, he is of little impact … Adequate in press coverage, but marginal in off coverage, as he lacks classic backpedal technique (gets too high in his stance and, despite loose hips, he is very tight in his turning motion and fails to stay in his pedal for long) … Struggles to come out of his breaks cleanly and is best when running alongside the receiver … Prefers to shuffle and bail, making him look awkward in his turning motions … Physical tackler, but some of his hits are negated vs. bigger receivers, as he lacks the strength to generate pop on contact … Not a fan of the weight room and just started buying into that program before his senior year … Tries to compensate for his lack of power by lunging at ball carriers, but this results in several missed tackles … Liability in run support inside the box, as he struggles to get off blocks and is quickly absorbed moving inside.

Compares To: RICARDO COLCLOUGH-Pittsburgh … Like Colclough, Graham is an excellent kickoff returner with blazing speed. He is efficient in man coverage, but has a rail-thin frame that could see him prone to injuries or simply get punished by the bigger receivers at the NFL level. His quickness and return abilities will earn him a roster spot, but unless he can add muscle mass and bulk and totally redefine his marginal backpedal skills, he will struggle for playing time on defense, outside of nickel and dime packages, where his speed and natural hands are evident.

Career Notes

Holds the school career records with 1,787 yards and three touchdowns on kickoff returns … His 1,787 yards rank seventh on the NCAA Division 1-AA all-time record books, and his average of 27.5 yards per kickoff return ranks 19th in Division 1-AA annals … His average of 32.3 yards per kickoff return in 2006 was the 17th-best season total in NCAA Division 1-AA history … His 27.5-yard average ranks second in Atlantic Ten Conference history … Only player in New Hampshire annals to score a touchdown on interception, kickoff and punt returns during a career.

2006 Season

Team tri-captain and a member of the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List … Started the first six games of the season at right cornerback, but suffered a left fibula fracture vs. James Madison … Was expected to miss a month of action, but when the injury failed to heal properly, doctors operated on his leg in early November, inserting a screw and plate to help speed the recovery process … Finished with 41 tackles (24 solos), as he forced a fumble and deflected three passes … Also had two interceptions … Returned ten kickoffs for 323 yards (32.3 avg) and a touchdown … Added 102 yards and a score on eleven punt returns (9.3 avg).

2006 Game Analysis

Northwestern … In a 34-17 upset win over the Division 1-A Wildcats, the Division 1-AA Wildcats saw their right cornerback post eight tackles (4 solos), cause a fumble, pick off a pass and gain 20 yards on a kickoff return.

Stony Brook … Returned five punts for 75 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown early in the second quarter … Also made six tackles (4 solos) and deflected two passes.

Dartmouth … Managed just one solo tackle, but returned a kickoff 46 yards.

Delaware … Exploded for a career-high 203 yards on six kickoff returns, including an electrifying 99-yard touchdown run … Added 14 yards on three punt returns and was in on thirteen tackles (6 solos) with a deflected pass … Also recovered an onside kick with 0:53 left to preserve UNH's 52-49 victory.

Richmond … Registered ten tackles (7 solos) with a 26-yard kickoff return and a 12-yard punt return.

James Madison … Picked off a pass, collected three solo tackles and returned a kickoff 28 yards before he saw his season come to a halt when Graham fractured his left fibula.

2005 Season

All-Atlantic Ten Conference second-team selection as both a defensive back and return specialist … Started all thirteen games at right cornerback, finishing second on the team with 104 tackles (73 solos), including one stop for a 1-yard loss … Recovered two fumbles and deflected nine passes … Gained 76 yards on three interceptions (25.3 avg), returning one for a touchdown … Returned 31 kickoffs for 778 yards (25.1 avg) and a touchdown, adding 26 yards on one punt return.

2005 Game Analysis

Cal-Davis … Began the season with ten tackles (5 solos) and returned three kickoffs for 71 yards.

Towson … Ran back an interception 75 yards for a touchdown and had three kickoff returns for 91 yards … Posted seven tackles (6 solos) with a stop for a loss and three pass break-ups.

Villanova … Collected seven solo tackles and had a 17-yard kickoff return.

William & Mary … Totaled 103 yards on five kickoff returns, as he made five tackles and broke up one pass.

Rhode Island … Returned a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown, gaining 107 yards on two attempts and had a pair of tackles.

Massachusetts … Followed with three kickoff returns for 52 yards, fourteen tackles (5 solos) and a pass deflection.

Hofstra … Picked off a pass and registered seventeen tackles (12 solos) with one pass break-up and a 27-yard kickoff return.

Iona … Had a 69-yard kickoff return and two tackles.

Maine … Posted ten hits (7 solos) with a 26-yard punt return and four kickoff returns for 58 yards.

Colgate (NCAA Division 1-AA Playoffs) … Delivered eleven tackles (10 solos), deflected two passes and returned three kickoffs for 50 yards.

Northern Iowa (Division 1-AA Playoffs) … Closed out the year with 87 yards on three kickoff returns and made twelve tackles (10 solos).

2004 Season

Started all thirteen games at right cornerback, earning National Player of the Week honors from the Sports Network for his performance vs. Northeastern … Led the team with a career-high 110 tackles (75 solos), as he caused three fumbles and recovered another … Led the Atlantic Ten Conference with seventeen pass deflections and gained 55 yards with a touchdown on four interception returns … Also took over kickoff return duties, totaling 686 yards with a score on 24 attempts (28.6 avg).

2004 Game Analysis

Returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown to clinch a win over Northeastern with 5:24 to play. The interception made the final score 27-23, UNH. As a result of his efforts vs. NU, Graham was named "The Sports Network" National Defensive Player of the Week and Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week. He also had thirteen tackles (12 solos) and a 31-yard kickoff return in the game … .Registered eight tackles (6 solos) with a forced fumble, a pass deflection and 90 yards on four kickoff returns vs. Delaware … Had nine solo hits vs. William & Mary and seven hits with two pass break-ups and an interception in the Dartmouth clash … Followed with ten tackles and three deflected passes vs. Villanova … Was in on eleven stops (8 solos) and knocked down three passes vs. Massachusetts … Had nine tackles (6 solos) with 82 yards on two kickoff returns, as he caused and recovered a fumble vs. Towson … Delivered four tackles with two interceptions for 30 yards in returns, three kickoff returns for 96 yards and four pass break-ups vs. Maine … Added 158 yards on three kickoff returns, including a 99-yard touchdown vs. Georgia Southern in the NCAA Division 1-AA playoffs.

2003 Season

Started the team's final nine games at right cornerback … Recorded 47 tackles (23 solos) with two pass deflections and gained 54 yards on three interception returns.

Injury Report

2004: Dislocated the pinky knuckle on his right hand during a July training session.

2005: Suffered a left collarbone fracture in April camp.

2006: Suffered a left fibula fracture vs. James Madison (10/14). When the injury was not healing properly, doctors operated in early November to insert a screw and plate in the leg.

2007: Could not participate in agility tests at the Combine, as he did not yet have medical clearance for his leg injury.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.38 in the 40-yard dash … 260-pound bench press … Bench pressed 225 pounds 10 times … 415-pound squat … 275-pound power clean … 39-inch vertical jump … 30 3/8-inch arm length … 9 1/2-inch hands … Right-handed … 29/41 Wonderlic score.

High School

Attended Turner Carroll (Buffalo, N.Y.) High School, playing football for head coach Willie Burnett … Compiled 2,700 all-purpose yards, 22 touchdowns, 99 tackles and 1,700 rushing yards in his senior season … Three-time All-Catholic selection and earned All-Western and All-State honors in 2003.

Personal

Sociology major … Son of Carey Graham and Patricia Weatherspoon … Born on 7/25/85 in Buffalo, New York.

 
 

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