Brandon Graham is ranked 11th overall among edge defenders in the NFL, and eighth in pass-rushing efficiency. He’s never been to a Pro Bowl, but he’s the only player in the top 15 who won a Super Bowl with his current team. Detroit’s Trey Flowers won two in New England (and lost one to Graham and the Eagles).
Graham, 32, also is the oldest edge defender among PFF’s top 15. He stated several years ago that he always wanted to reach double-digit sacks in his career. He’s certainly on pace for it after a recent hot streak. Here’s a quick look at his season and his career.
Graham has four sacks in his last three games to move up to a tie for fourth among the league leaders. The list: t1. Aaron Donald, Rams, 9.0; t1. Myles Garrett, Browns, 9.0; 3. Trey Hendrickson, Saints, 7.5; t4. Brandon Graham, Eagles, 7.0; t4. Emmanuel Ogbah, Dolphins, 7.0; t4. Za’Darius Smith, Packers, 7.0; t4. T.J. Watt, Steelers, 7.0. All have played in eight games, and all have eight remaining.
Graham and T.J. Watt are the only players this season with at least seven sacks and nine tackles for loss.
Most sacks, Eagles history (since 1982): 1. Reggie White, 124; 2. Trent Cole, 85.5; 3. Clyde Simmons, 76.0; 4. Brandon Graham, 58.0, 5. Hugh Douglas, 54.5; t6. Fletcher Cox, 50.5; t6. Greg Brown, 50.5. Cox is the only defensive tackle on this list.
Graham spent the first half of his career hearing that the Eagles should have selected Earl Thomas instead of him in 2010. Beloved Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins had moved on to Denver and there was an obvious need at that position, instead of defensive end. It didn’t help that Thomas was a key member of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense that led to one Super Bowl win, and a stunning loss in another. (Just give the ball to Marshawn Lynch, Pete.)
» YOUTUBE Video: The defining moment of Brandon Graham’s career
Thomas had a good career but an ugly ending in Seattle, where he was last seen giving coach Pete Carroll the finger as he was carted off with a broken leg in 2018. He spent a year with the Ravens but was cut after a fight during a preseason practice. Career games played, including postseason: Earl Thomas, 153; Brandon Graham, 158.
The Eagles traded up from 24th to 13th to select Graham. He never came to Philadelphia for a predraft visit and was surprised he landed with the Eagles. “I’m just happy they see a lot in me,” Graham said on draft night. “I see a lot in myself, too, and I’m going to give 'em what they want.”
Andy Reid had a hunch the Giants might take Graham with the 15th pick. He might have been right since New York took defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 16.5 sacks in 2011 when the Giants won the Super Bowl. Pierre-Paul is now in his third season with Tampa Bay, and he’s a half-sack behind Graham this season.
Dallas ended up with the 24th pick that originally was the Eagles' selection and took wide receiver Dez Bryant.
Graham’s 2010 draft class is just one of three since 1982 that has produced at least eight players with 50 or more career sacks. Other studs selected that year, with their career sack totals: Pierre-Paul, 15th pick, 86.0 career sacks; Carlos Dunlap, 54th, 83.5; Everson Griffen, 100th, 77.0; Geno Atkins, 120th, 75.5; Ndamukong Suh, 2nd, 62.5; Gerald McCoy, 3rd, 59.5; Brandon Graham, 13th, 58.0.
The other top classes for pass rushers was 2011, which had 10 players reach at least 50 career sacks (led by Von Miller, J.J. Watt, Ryan Kerrigan) and 1983, which had eight (led by Richard Dent, Greg Townsend, Jim Jeffcoat).
."“Great pass rusher, disruptive run stopper, high-motor guy. Humble guy,”
Graham’s days here were thought to be numbered when the Eagles took outside linebacker/pass rusher Marcus Smith in the first round in 2014. But the Smith pick was a bust and Chip Kelly was fired the following year. Graham would continue his Eagles career.
“When we first came back for the minicamps, I kept hearing all this talk about being traded,” Graham said in 2014. “I thought I was going to get traded before I got back [for the start of training camp]. But they stuck with me, and I feel I owe the team and the fans a lot because I know things haven’t gone the way they’re supposed to for a first-rounder. But I know I can play. It’s time to take off.”
Graham has 46.5 sacks in 103 games since making that statement. The only game he’s missed was the 2017 regular-season finale when the Eagles had already locked up the No. 1 seed. A month later, he’d make arguably the biggest defensive play in team history.
Appearing headed for free agency following the 2018 season, but was brought back -- at age 30 -- with a surprising three-year deal worth $40 million. “I could go somewhere and make money somewhere else, but I want to make sure it fits as far as schematically,” he said. “And I think Philly checks off all the boxes. I’m comfortable. I love the city. I love the upstairs [team management] ... For me, it was a no-brainer. It’s all about [meeting] in the middle with each other.”