Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Thoughts on Graham, the 1st round, the NFC East

Here are my thoughts after that whirlwind of a first round tonight:

Thoughts on Graham, the 1st round, the NFC East

The Eagles selected defensive end Brandon Graham with the 13th pick. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
The Eagles selected defensive end Brandon Graham with the 13th pick. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

Here are my thoughts after that whirlwind of a first round tonight:

* Evaluating whether I think Brandon Graham is going to have a better career than Earl Thomas is pointless. During the season, I re-watched every Eagles game for Man Up, and felt comfortable offering player evaluations for pretty much everyone on the roster. But I haven't seen enough of Graham or Thomas to make that assessment now. If the Eagles targeted Graham and felt he could be an impact player, then it's a good thing that they were aggressive in making a move and grabbing him.

* That being said, I crunched some numbers on first-round pass rushers for a post back in March. The average defensive lineman taken in the first round over the past five years had 2.69 sacks as a rookie. For the average defensive end, that number was 3.89. Only three times in the past five years did one of those guys have more than six sacks in his first season.

And if you look at the top-10 sack guys from 2009, they had on average 5.5 years of experience.

In other words, if Graham were to have a major impact as a rookie, he would be an exception to the rule. Pass rushers take time to develop. Which makes me wonder: If the Eagles still had Donovan McNabb, would Graham have been the pick?

* The Eagles at times last season used a nine-man defensive line rotation. Gone from that group are Darren Howard, Chris Clemons and Jason Babin. The new guys in are Graham and Darryl Tapp. It's up to Sean McDermott to figure out the best way to utilize everyone. Not sure how flexible Graham can be in terms of where he lines up to get after the quarterback.

* I think I like the new draft format. That was an insane first round. Seven trades in all. A frantic pace. Now we get 24 hours or so to think about it and then move on to the rest of the draft. Good job by the teams not taking the full 10 minutes between picks.

* One cornerback was taken in the first 19 picks. Four were taken in the final 13. That hurt the Eagles. They desperately need to add a corner (or two). We'll see what they come up with on Friday. I think those of you who don't like the Graham pick are more upset with the Eagles not addressing their secondary than anything else.

* A quick look at the other NFC East selections. The Redskins took Oklahoma offensive tackle Trent Williams at No. 4. He's considered to have a high ceiling but isn't as NFL-ready as Oklahoma State's Russell Okung, per the draft experts. Williams will be entrusted to protect McNabb's blind side.

The Cowboys were the fourth team to occupy the No. 24 position, which originally belonged to the Eagles, and they gambled on Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant. Does this make Roy Williams the Cowboys' third receiver? If the young guys pan out, Dallas has quite the arsenal with Bryant, Miles Austin, Felix Jones and Jason Witten.

And finally, the Giants snagged DE Jason Pierre-Paul at No. 15. Pierre-Paul played just one season at South Florida and is considered a raw prospect with a high upside. It'd be interesting to find out how the Giants had Pierre-Paul graded, compared to Graham.

* That's it for tonight. On Friday, we'll post during the day and then be back at it with a live chat for the second and third rounds, starting at 6 p.m.

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Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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