...Brandon Graham, DE, University of Michigan.
Let me first start off by saying that I completely agree with Giants Mock GM Richard Resch that Sam Bradford is INEXPLICABLY still available in this draft. I guess even in the mock world of reality, bad teams will always stay bad teams because of bad drafting on their behalf.
So, let's just get it straight that if this was real life, you better believe the Tennessee Titans would be taking Sam Bradford with this 16th pick in the draft.
Who would pass up on the opportunity to take a potential standout QB in the middle of the first round, being able to pay him less than what he's worth since he was taken in the middle of the first round? With the NFL rookies being paid on a scale determined by where they were drafted, Bradford would not be able to demand the big contract he would if he were taken in the top five spots.
This oversight by the 15 teams before me cannot be overlooked, yet I have to overlook it because there is just no way that Sam Bradford would be available at this pick, so it would be unfair for me to write a "dream" column about the Titans selecting him.
For now, the Titans are just going to have to be happy with their QB who can't crack the 60-percent mark for accuracy.
Yes, it would be a no-brainer if this were real life.
But, it's not, and I have to be fair and stick with someone who just might be available to the Titans at 16. And, Brandon Graham is the type of player the Titans have a need, and desire, for.
With Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse most likely taking a walk, the Titans will be in extreme need at the defensive end position.
They need someone who can rush the quarterback and actually get to the quarterback. They had one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL last season, and that was mostly due to the fact that they couldn't rush the quarterback.
With a strong pass rush, the quarterback has less time to find an open receiver, limiting the big-play ability and allowing the cornerbacks to stay with their men. Look, no matter how good a cornerback is, if given enough time, any receiver will be able to get open.
Brandon Graham is a very physical, very strong defensive end, with a slew of moves he can use to get around the lineman attempting to block him.
He has the ability to get around his man, work him to the inside, or run right through him with a bull rush. His style of attack is extremely versatile, which is something all great pass rushers need in the NFL.
I think the most important part of his game are his instincts and his quick jump out of his stance. If you watch him on film, he almost always beats the offensive lineman up into position, which in terms of fighting in the trenches, getting position on your opposing lineman is the clincher to winning the battle.
The main knock on him is his size. And, to tell you the truth, I am sick and tired of hearing all this talk about the "ideal" player. These NFL scouts and coaches all think that there needs to be certain qualities in a player at a certain position for him to be successful.
A quarterback needs to be tall, a wide receiver needs to be fast, great cornerbacks need to run 4.2 40s, and defensive ends need to be 6'3" or taller.
What does being 6'3" have anything to do with a man's ability to rush the quarterback?
Brandon Graham is 6'1" and 263 pounds. According to NFL scouts, the 263 is a good number, but they'd like it better if he were an inch or two taller, as if being that inch or two taller is going to help him get around 350-pound offensive-lineman.
This isn't basketball where he's trying to battle a taller man for a rebound. He's trying to be quicker than his opposition, not taller.
Case in point. I am going to name you five names and we will see if you can tell me the correlation between all five of them. And, I'll help you out; there are two correlations.
Elvis Dumervil, Dwight Freeney, LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, and Robert Mathis.
Any fan of football will tell you that these five men are some of the premier pass rushers in the game. All of them were in the top 15 in sacks last season, totalling 63.5 sacks between the five of them.
You know what the other correlation is?
Dumervil - 5'11", Freeney - 6'1", Woodley - 6'2", Harrison - 6'0", and Mathis - 6'2". And those are their team measurements. If they were at the combine right now, they'd probably be measured shorter than those numbers read.
Enough said. Case closed on the theory that height matters when talking about rushing the passer.
Outside of his pass rushing ability, his ability to diagnose plays is uncanny, which makes him a threat as a run stopper.
This is big, because it makes him a three- or four-down player, rather than just a third down pass rushing specialist like most pass rushing defensive ends are these days.
He tied for the lead in the Big Ten for tackles for a loss in 2008 (20), and led the Big Ten this past season with 25 tackles for a loss. He has an ever present motor and never gives up on plays, which is a bit of a cliche, but still very true in his case.
Another great quality about Graham is his character. He is a great young man, who has always been known to handle coaching well. He has been through some rough coaching issues while at Michigan, but always rose above it and came out on top.
He is a hard worker who will listen to whatever coaching he receives in the NFL, which will make him a complete success.
In my eyes, he could end up being a steal at 16 for the Tennessee Titans.
Maybe not as much as a steal as it would be to land Sam Bradford at 16, but I happen to believe that Brandon Graham is just about as sure a thing as Sam Bradford is.
And, that goes without mentioning the fact that Sam Bradford just had surgery on his throwing shoulder that was "100 percent necessary in order for him to continue playing football."
Without a second round pick in this draft, it is definitely a must that whomever they draft in the first round be a "hit."
The San Francisco 49ers are on the clock. Will they be the team that chooses Bradford? Or are they happy with Alex Smith and Shaun Hill?
Click on any link to read the rest of the Mock draft choices from the 2010 draft: