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Thread: Michigan DE Graham wins Senior Bowl MVP

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    Michigan DE Graham wins Senior Bowl MVP

    Michigan DE Graham wins Senior Bowl MVP

    Posted by Evan Silva on January 30, 2010 7:41 PM ET

    Michigan DE Brandon Graham, a likely mid to late first-round pick in April's draft, took home Senior Bowl M.V.P. honors as Jim Schwartz's North squad whipped Tony Sparano's South team 31-13 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday evening.

    Graham was highly disruptive despite seeing limited snaps so everyone could play. He finished with five tackles and two sacks, including a strip-sack of Oklahoma QB Zac Robinson to force a fumble recovered by the North at the South's 49-yard line.

    Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard was highly productive for the North offense, catching five passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. Gilyard, who struggled with drops during the practice week, proved much better in the live setting. He beat decorated Alabama CB Javier Arenas down the right sideline for his touchdown, hauling in the 32-yard throw from Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour. LeFevour doesn't possess great arm strength, but moved the ball aggressively and finished with 97 yards on 10 attempts, the one passing touchdown, and another one-yard rushing score.

    Headliner Tim Tebow of Florida was a non-factor. His scrambles didn't work against the elite speed of Schwartz's defense, and Tebow refused to throw down field. Tebow also fumbled twice, losing one, and managed just 50 yards on 8-of-12 passing. He gained four yards on four carries.

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    Re: Michigan DE Graham wins Senior Bowl MVP

    POSTED: JAN. 30, 2010

    Michigan DE Brandon Graham follows LaMarr Woodley's path


    MOBILE, Ala. -- It's the quick-and-easy comparison, but for good reason. It goes beyond the fact that Brandon Graham played defensive end at Michigan like LaMarr Woodley did.


    "LaMarr Woodley was the one who taught me most of my stuff," Graham said this week while preparing for today's Senior Bowl. "Coming in as a freshman, I tried to imitate everything I saw him do."

    Graham (6-feet-1, 263 pounds) measures almost the same as Woodley (6-2, 265) does, although his build is more stout. He could play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL or move to outside linebacker in a 3-4, as Woodley has. He is projected to go in the first or second round of the draft in April; Woodley went to Pittsburgh in the second round three years ago and has blossomed into a star who will play in the Pro Bowl on Sunday.

    MORE: What an ESPN analyst is saying about Brandon Graham

    The Lions run a 4-3 defense and hold the second pick of the second round, No. 34 overall.

    "I looked at Woodley a lot when he came out, and I loved him," said Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. "I didn't know if he was going to be big and strong enough. But, boy, he's had a great career already.

    "Maybe Graham will be the same thing. ... They're very much alike."

    To make the NFL, Graham will play where he's asked
    When Woodley went through the NFL draft process three years ago, he told teams he wanted to play defensive end. That's where he starred at Michigan. That's where he felt most comfortable.

    Graham starred at defensive end for the Wolverines, too. But as he goes through the process now, he's telling anyone and everyone that he will play defensive end or outside linebacker.

    "Right now, I'm in the best position possible for myself as a D end," Graham said this week while preparing for today's Senior Bowl. "If coaches want me to stand up, I can show them tomorrow I can drop back and cover, if that's what they want me to do."

    It worked pretty well for Woodley. Pittsburgh drafted him in the second round and moved him to outside linebacker.

    "When the Steelers called me and said, 'We're going to draft you with the next pick, and you'll play outside linebacker,' I definitely wasn't going to say no," Woodley said at the Super Bowl last year. "I knew it was going to be a challenge for me, but I knew once I had the opportunity to have the reps at the position ... that I could get it down."

    It took him a year to make the transition, but Woodley has been outstanding since, racking up 25 sacks over the past two regular seasons. He will play in the Pro Bowl on Sunday.

    Graham is projected to be a first- or second-round pick, but it remains to be seen what he'll play.

    NFL folks scrutinize body type as they project how a player might fit, and they like their pass rushers at least 6-feet-2. Graham is considered more stout than Woodley, even though he measured 6-1, 263 at Monday's weigh-in and Woodley is listed at 6-2, 265.

    But while he said "you'd like to have more height," Cunningham compared Graham favorably to Woodley as an end.

    "I think Graham has more pass-rush skills at this stage, if they were both at the same stage," Cunningham said. "Woodley was a powerful player, and he looked like a linebacker to you."

    The Lions' staff is coaching the North for the Senior Bowl. The Lions -- who have the No. 34 pick and need a pass rusher -- run a 4-3 scheme and have used Graham as a defensive end this week.

    "He's really showing himself in the one-on-one pass rush," Cunningham said. "He's certainly been consistent every day beating guys."

    Graham learned a lot from Woodley at U-M. He also learned a lot practicing against left tackle Jake Long, whom Miami drafted first overall in 2008.

    "That was the hard thing," Graham said. "He played every down like it was a game, so he really got me ready, too."

    Teams that run a 3-4 scheme and want to look at Graham as an outside linebacker likely will put him through different drills at Michigan's pro day, testing to see how he drops in pass coverage.

    Graham said he would be comfortable with that. He did it at Detroit Crockett.

    "I played linebacker all my life," Graham said. "And then when I came to Michigan, they put me down as a D end. I mean, stuff happens for a reason."

    One thing teams don't need to test is Graham's motor, no matter how they view him as a player.

    "From the first meeting we had him, I could tell that he loves to play football," said Kris Kocurek, the Lions' assistant defensive line coach. "He likes the game. He has fun. He feeds off other guys making plays.

    "As far as him fitting in what we do, we look for explosive guys on the edge, and I think he's shown some things this week where he's shown some explosion and he has playmaking ability."

    ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said "despite an underwhelming body," Graham showed this week "he's able to do everything you need him to do." McShay raved about Graham's hustle, technique and intelligence and said he would not be surprised if Graham went late in the first round.

    "Whether he plays defensive end in a 4-3 or outside linebacker in a 3-4, he's just the kind of guy that seems to get to the NFL and have success," McShay said in a conference call. "LaMarr Woodley didn't come off the board in the first round, so it doesn't really matter where you get picked, it's how you do at the next level. And I think Graham is going to be very successful."

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    Re: Michigan DE Graham wins Senior Bowl MVP

    h has a build "more stout" then woodley


    what is he? a god damn building

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    Re: Michigan DE Graham wins Senior Bowl MVP

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ-STEELER
    h has a build "more stout" then woodley


    what is he? a god damn building

    I read/heard somewhere the Woodley has better lower body strength than Graham but Graham has more upper body strength.

    Not sure what that means but Graham looks unstoppable...

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    Re: Michigan DE Graham wins Senior Bowl MVP

    This is what the Sporting News had to say about his Senior Bowl performance this week:


    Best pass rusher: Brandon Graham, Michigan. He easily was the most impressive defensive end this week. He showed great power and speed coming off the edge as well as the diverse pass-rush arsenal needed to keep offensive tackles on their heels.

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    Re: Michigan DE Graham wins Senior Bowl MVP

    Quote Originally Posted by Jom112
    Quote Originally Posted by NJ-STEELER
    h has a build "more stout" then woodley


    what is he? a god damn building

    I read/heard somewhere the Woodley has better lower body strength than Graham but Graham has more upper body strength.

    Not sure what that means but Graham looks unstoppable...
    i dont think there's another NFL linebacker that looks more "stout" then woodley.

    he's 265 lbs in a 6'2 body

  7. #7

    Re: Michigan DE Graham wins Senior Bowl MVP

    [quote=NJ-STEELER]
    Quote Originally Posted by Jom112
    Quote Originally Posted by "NJ-STEELER":1mabyltw
    h has a build "more stout" then woodley


    what is he? a god damn building

    I read/heard somewhere the Woodley has better lower body strength than Graham but Graham has more upper body strength.

    Not sure what that means but Graham looks unstoppable...
    i dont think there's another NFL linebacker that looks more "stout" then woodley.

    he's 265 lbs in a 6'2 body[/quote:1mabyltw]

    Probably not currently, but Levon was a big boy in his day.

    Man I loved Levon.

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    Re: Michigan DE Graham wins Senior Bowl MVP

    Let's draft him. I'll take another Woodley please.

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    Re: Michigan DE Graham wins Senior Bowl MVP

    Quote Originally Posted by flippy
    Let's draft him. I'll take another Woodley please.
    He and Woodley can be bookend DEs in our future 4-3 defense

    I wonder if he can play ILB in the 3-4??? Seems to meet the "stout gainst the run" criteria. Could be a surprise pick at #18 if he can play ILB.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

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    Re: Michigan DE Graham wins Senior Bowl MVP

    He played a hell of a game.

    So did Weatherspoon.

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