It’s been six years since Brandon Graham was a first round pick but this year marks his first as a starter. Despite constantly being underrated or arguably under performing in comparison to the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul who was drafted later that year, we have a feeling this may be the year that the outside linebacker finally heads to his first Pro Bowl.
Until now, Graham has started behind former Eagle Trent Cole, taking 43% of snaps last year. But with Cole gone, Brandon Graham is the natural replacement and that may not be a bad thing. Since 2012, Cole has racked up 17 sacks in 2,549 snaps. In that same time, Graham has put in 14 sacks over 1,312 snaps…you don’t need to be an NFL Analyst to see the difference..
Graham has been there since the end of the Andy Reid Era and seen the Chip Kelly system flourish. He has worked tirelessly to adapt to Chip’s ways, resulting in a four-year contract. The contract would not have been signed if the team did not believe he could turn into a star.
The worst part is that Cole is a two-time Pro Bowler and Graham has been putting up better numbers for the last couple of years. Now Cole has been removed from the situation, it could well be just a few regular season games before he emerges as the player the Eagles’ thought he could become when they picked him back in 2010.
If that wasn’t enough reason to get behind Graham, the fact he’s lining up alongside Connor Barwin might. Barwin led the NFC in sacks last year and will naturally draw the spotlight from blockers across the league. If you don’t plan on keeping Barwin at bay, then you’re doing it wrong. What this means for Graham is that whilst everyone’s so focused on keeping Barwin under chains, he can sneak through the trenches unnoticed and pick up even bigger numbers.
Brandon Graham has all the odds in his favour now and his snaps will vastly increase for the Birds. He may not become the best linebacker in Eagles history just yet, but there are a lot of signs pointing towards a very big season for the Michigan product.