Eagles: re-ink productive pass rusher Graham
After letting a number of their own go in recent days the Philadelphia Eagles have kept hold of one of their marquee re-signings with Brandon Graham returning to Philadelphia. A former first-round pick, Graham has been one of the league’s most productive pass rushers since returning from a serious knee injury in 2012. Though he has never played full-time snaps, Graham has racked up 125 pressures in the last three seasons earning a +49.0 pass rush grade since the start of 2012.
Graham’s return coincides with the departure of veteran edge defender Trent Cole and could pave the way for Graham to finally take on a full-time role with his work as a run defender on base downs largely untested to this point. On a per-snap basis, Graham’s ability and production as a pass rusher is undeniable, he led all edge defenders in our Pass Rushing Productivity metric in both 2012 and 2014, collecting 96 pressures on 430 combined pass rushes in those two seasons.
Now four years removed from his torn ACL and micro-fracture surgery we will see whether Graham can physically cope with the grind of a full snap count or whether the Eagles will continue to manage him in that regard. With Cole out of the picture, Graham figures to have the inside line to start opposite Connor Barwin and be the Eagles’ leading pass rusher, but Philadelphia will be hoping that last year’s first round pick Marcus Smith II can press a claim for playing time this season, so we will wait and see just how Graham’s playing time pans out. What we have little doubt about, however, is that on passing downs Graham will once again be taking up residence in opposing backfields, harassing and taking down quarterbacks.