In order for the Dallas Cowboys to take it to another level in 2015, Rod Marinelli is going to need to fill his very bare cupboard with some "Rushmen." Pro Football Focus ranked the Philadelphia Eagles as the most efficient pass rush in the NFL for 2014. Rotoworld recently suggested that the Eagles will allow their defensive end Brandon Graham to test the market. The Cowboys would be wise to court the young man.
Brandon Graham has been a very solid player for the Eagles since they selected him with 13th overall pick in 2010. He currently isn't listed as a starter, but could soon change his status with teams lining up for his services. According to OverTheCap.com, Graham is the fourth best free agent 4-3 end on the market. With Dallas' need and Graham's recent ascension, it looks like a match made in heaven.
Graham committed to Michigan as an outside linebacker, but showed up at 295 pounds and was converted to defensive end. Graham was only one of five that year that would play as a true freshman for the Wolverines. After getting his weight down to a more manageable 262 pounds, Graham was named a starter in his sophomore year. Very early into 2007, Graham was called out by his coach Lloyd Carr. Carr was quoted at practice by reporters saying "Graham needed to get focused." That Saturday, Graham exploded for 3.5 sacks to give Michigan it's first win over rival Notre Dame. Graham finished seventh in Big Ten defensive rankings with 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
The next season, Graham would lead the team with 10 sacks, the Big Ten with 20 tackles for loss, and was named Michigan's Most Valuable Player. He would also garner Second Team All-Big Ten honors. His senior year was his best, where Graham had 10.5 sacks and 26 tackles for losses. He would again be named Team MVP and well as Big Ten MVP. Graham started 12 games and had four with multiple sacks, and was the only Big Ten player to make Mel Kiper's Top 25. He would receive First Team All-Big Ten and Second Team All-American by the Associated Press. Brandon also was announced as Senior Bowl MVP with five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
At the NFL Combine, Graham ranked eighth for defensive linemen. The Eagles traded up in the first round to get Graham at 13th. In his rookie season, he was playing very well until he tore his ACL in a week 14 game against the Cowboys. In 2011, Graham underwent micro-fracture surgery and only played in three games. He returned to form in 2012 with seven sacks and only missed one game. He recorded six starts that year and was graded by PFF a +30.1, considerably high for a guy returning from a micro-fracture procedure.
In 2013, Chip Kelly used Graham coming off the bench and he wouldn't start any games. However, he still earned a positive grade and recorded four sacks, five hits and 18 hurries. The same would be said for 2014, where coming off the bench, Graham had six sacks, eight hits and 39 hurries. He also was able to force a negative play 23 times in 2014 and earned a +17.7 pass rushing grade.
Brandon Graham is looking for a more prominent role and will likely need to join another team to do so. He'll be 27 years old at the start of the season. It's not yet known what the price-tag will be for Graham. It has been rumored that he's looking for something close to $30 million over the life of the contract. The market hasn't been so kind to pass rushers in the last few seasons, and with guys like JPP, Suh, and Hardy out there; Dallas certainly has a good shot at Graham.
Out of all the free agents on the market, Graham fits the Cowboys best in my opinion. His high draft status, past production, versatility and drive for playing time make him the perfect candidate. He will have to get back to playing with his hand in the ground, but it's nothing he hasn't done before.
Free agency begins on March 10th.