The 2010 NFL Draft was in a different format than in previous years where it was spread over 3 days instead of 2. Previously, day 1 was on a Saturday and had consisted of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round drafts. Day 2 would be on Sunday consist of the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th rounds. Day 1 this year’s draft consisted of only the 1st round on Thursday, April 22, 2010.
Going into the 2010 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles have many needs. Defense is the theme of this draft, since the Eagles have had many defensive woes in 2009. According to CBSsports.com, they needed to gain some players at linebacker, safety, corner back, defensive end. Linebacker and safety were the high priorities on defense. Another high priority on the draft was on offense, they needed either an offensive guard and/or center as the offensive line had it troubles. Originally, the Philadelphia Eagles had the 24th pick of the first round of the draft. They traded for Denver’s 13th pick in exchange for the 24th pick in the first round, and 2 picks in the third round (the overall 70th and 87th pick). Eagles selected defensive end Brandon Graham from the Michigan Wolverines which was a surprise to many Eagles followers who predicted that they would get a safety first.
What was surprising to many was that they would choose a defensive end so early in the draft when the team badly needed stronger secondary and linebacking corps and that 3 picks were traded to Denver in order for the Eagles to move up to get him. If Brandon does not pan out, those other picks the Eagles could have had would be in vain and would be an expensive lost. Those picks could have been used to address other needs such as getting more offensive linemen. If Brandon Graham does work out, there are 7 other picks the Eagles have to address their needs and/or trade other teams for players and picks and his contributions would more than make up for it.
Brandon Graham had a wonderful career as a defensive end in the Michigan Wolverines. According to the Michigan Wolverines Athletic site, Graham had 64 tackles and 10.5 sacks along with 2 forced fumbles which one he recovered in his senior year in 2009. ESPN discusses on its 2010 NFL Draft Pick List and Results – Round 1 that he is very active in pass rushing with tenacity, able to move through blockers with his strength and technique, and is great at stopping the run. A concern of his is his lack of height will allow bigger and stronger offensive linemen will hold him off from disrupting the play.
The main criticism of this pick is that the pick might have better been served by taking either a safety, corner back, or linebacker before taking a defensive end. Deep passes have hurt the Eagles defense in 2009 as receivers and tight ends were able to get away from defenders to be open to catch a pass and usually getting better corner backs, safeties, and linebackers to cover them better would improve this defense. On Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia, it was suggested by one analyst named Ray Didinger that the Eagles should have used that pick on safety such as Earl Thomas of the Texas Longhorns, who was picked by the Seattle Seahawks on the pick after the Eagles picked Graham. Time will tell if Ray is right. Getting an end so early in the draft might mean that other teams would pick the quality safeties, corner backs, and linebackers before the Eagles are able to pick them and they would get players that are not as skilled or capable of filling their defensive needs.
Despite these criticism, getting a stronger defensive end may be the answer to help improve the Eagles defense and Brandon Graham may be a big key. A strong end can penetrate the other team’s offensive line to pressure a quarterback from throwing the ball accurately and maybe even sack the quarterback. Likewise, the end can stop the run so that the quarterback has farther to throw on third down. With Eagles defensive end Trent Cole on the opposite side of the defensive line creating havoc in opposing teams backfield, a player like Brandon Graham will enable the Eagles defensive line some added firepower. Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid stated on Comcast Sportsnet that Graham will have an immediate impact on the Eagles defensive line.
Drafting players for any team is an inexact science. Some players never achieve what coaches, fans, experts, and scouting reports expect, while others go beyond expectations. Playing in the NFL is a lot different than playing in college. The athletes that these draftees will face are bigger, stronger, faster, and more importantly, wiser and more experienced than what they faced before. It’s hard to predict which players drafted will do greatly, which ones are horrible, and which ones are average or so-so. For Eagles fans and management, hopefully Brandon Graham becomes the next Eagles star.
Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia
University of Michigan’s Athletic Department, The Official page of the Michigan Wolverines.