Is he a fit for this system?
He was drafted before Jim Washburn got here, after all. Some men are Wide-9 guys, and some aren’t. What category does Graham fall into? Depends who you ask.
“I feel like everybody is made for this system because you can get off the ball and go play,” said Graham. “I’ve been in that defense before at Michigan, it’s just not as technical as [Washburn] does it. I feel like it’s a great fit for me.”
Jason Babin didn’t seem to be in total agreement that this is an organic fit.
“Very few guys I think are born for this system,” said Babin, who qualifies as one of those people. “But the good thing about this system is you can get coached into about anything.”
One thing we can say is that Graham was brought in to penetrate the backfield, and that is Washburn’s sole obsession. This is a player that racked up 9.5 sacks his senior season with the Wolverines and led the nation with 25 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
And don’t be so quick to dismiss his rookie season entirely, either. As Sheil points out, his 13 quarterback hurries were second to only Trent Cole that year, and he managed three sacks before going down with a torn ACL.
If Graham does fight through the early setbacks and produces this year, it’ll be in the mold of a pass-rusher. The other element of his game seems to need some work.
“Just the technique and the concept, the defensive ends are not just running up the field, they have an aiming point – a landmark – and there’s a certain way they rush so they can play the run game,” explained Juan Castillo. “That’s the thing that Brandon is learning.
“He’s probably a little bit behind the other guys, but he’ll catch up quickly. Wash has been working him hard and he’s a smart kid, he’ll be good.”
Graham has dropped some 20 pounds and says he now weighs in at 270. His offseason transformation and weight-room feats have been documented. Now we get to see what it all means once the pads are slid over his molded shoulders. We’ll start to find out if he is a good player, and if he’s a good player for this concept.
“When you look at him in the eye, you know there’s a fire there,” said Castillo. “He wants to prove all of you wrong. He’s here for business.”