PFF explains why Brandon Graham was underrated in 2016

PFF explains why Brandon Graham was underrated in 2016

Brandon Graham walked through the Eagles' locker room at Lincoln Financial Field with a big smile on his face. While the season was over in terms of playoff chances, the Eagles beat the Giants 24-19 to snap their five-game losing streak. 

Graham played a big role in the win. He provided pressure all day. But there was just one thing on his mind as he strolled from the showers to his locker stall. 

"I should have had him!" Graham said, still smiling, but now shaking his head. 

With 25 seconds left in the game, Graham piled up his fourth quarterback hit on Eli Manning, but the Giants' QB was able to keep his right arm free and throw the ball away. A little bit later, Manning threw a desperation interception and the Eagles sealed the game. 

Graham, 28, had the best season of his career in 2016. No question. But he finished the year with just 5 1/2 sacks. Despite being named a second-team All-Pro and a first alternate for the Pro Bowl, many people probably don't realize how disruptive he really was this past year, even if the sack numbers don't show it. 

That's the point ProFootballFocus' Sam Monson makes this week. 

"Brandon Graham doesn’t get the recognition he deserves as one of the league’s most consistent and dominant pass-rushers because people get too caught up with measuring pass rush by sacks alone," Monson writes. 

In their list of the top 101 players from 2016, Graham was the highest-ranked Eagle, at No. 9. 

Of course, PFF's stats support that idea. Graham produced a pressure 83 times in 2016. Only Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack had more. Graham got pressure once every 5.8 pass-rushing snaps, the second best number in the league. 

While sacks are the goal, Graham's pressures often created opportunities for his teammates, resulting in a PBU or an interception. It's harder to quantify those things, though. 

One of the more interesting stats from PFF is that Graham has converted his pressures into sacks at a 10.7 percent clip. That's well under the 15.1 percent average in the NFL this season. Graham himself has admitted that he needs to pick up sacks at a higher rate. 

According to PFF, Graham's best game was that Week 16 matchup against the Giants. That's the game where he thought he should have brought down Manning but didn't have a sack. 

If he starts finishing his pressures next season, he'll probably start to get the recognition he deserves. 

Eagles 2017 training camp position battle: Safety

Eagles 2017 training camp position battle: Safety

We went through the cornerbacks Thursday and that position is clearly much more of a mess than safety (see story).
In fact, the Eagles have a really good starting safety duo in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.
But over the last couple of years, the Eagles have used Jenkins as their slot cornerback in the nickel package. It's a position that Jenkins really enjoys playing — he loves being closer to the action. Except whenever Jenkins plays up as the slot corner, the team is forced to bring an extra safety off the bench.
Last season, that extra safety was Jaylen Watkins. When Jenkins moved up, Watkins would take the field. A former fourth-rounder from Florida, Watkins ended up playing 38 percent of the team's defensive snaps in 2016. That's a heckuva lot, especially considering that Jenkins and McLeod, the two guys ahead of him, missed a combined seven snaps.
Watkins beat out Chris Maragos for that third safety spot in 2016. The Eagles seem happy letting Maragos focus on being the all-time great special teams force he's been since coming to Philadelphia.
So Watkins is the incumbent fighting for that third safety job, but the other guy was with the Eagles last year, too.
The Eagles claimed Terrence Brooks off waivers from the Ravens just before the opener in 2016. Brooks played in 11 games but was primarily a special teams player. He played just three defensive snaps (but he did pull in his first career interception on that late bomb against the Giants in Week 16). The only reason Brooks got on the field in that game was because Watkins suffered a concussion.
While Brooks never really made it with Baltimore, the Ravens did draft him in the third round out of Florida State in 2014. That rookie year, he played 234 snaps before tearing his ACL. He played minimally in 2015 and was cut before last season began.
With a full offseason, Brooks ought to have a much better grasp of the Eagles' defense, and Watkins certainly didn't play well enough to be handed that third safety job again.
So while safety might seem like a secure position, it'll be one to watch this summer.

NFL Notes: Dez Bryant throws huge BBQ, then reportedly late for camp

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NFL Notes: Dez Bryant throws huge BBQ, then reportedly late for camp

LUFKIN, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant returned to his East Texas hometown to thank supporters with free barbecue that drew several thousand fans to a park.

Bryant was in Lufkin on Thursday afternoon for the outdoor event that included games and a chance to meet the NFL star as temperatures reached the 90s. Lufkin police spokeswoman Jessica Pebsworth on Friday estimated the crowd at about 3,000 and said two people were treated for heat exhaustion.

Pebsworth says everyone was excited to see Bryant and he was a great host.

Bryant says he decided a couple of days earlier to throw the catered event in Lufkin, a city of about 36,000 located 110 miles (177 kilometers) northeast of Houston.

The Cowboys open camp next week in Oxnard, California.

However, it appears that generosity caused Bryant to be a bit tardy. According to ESPN’s Todd Archer, Bryant was late on Friday to report for camp with the Cowboys’ other veterans.

Bengals: Jones suspended 1 game for altercation
CINCINNATI -- Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones has been suspended for the regular-season opener against Baltimore for his role in an altercation at a downtown hotel earlier this year.

Jones had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from the January incident, the latest in a history of off-the-field legal issues for the NFL veteran. The NFL said Friday that the suspension was for a violation of its personal conduct policy.

Police said Jones kicked and used head-butting as he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a hotel employee. He was arrested outside the hotel, and police video showed him protesting that he hadn't done anything to deserve it, loudly demanding, "Let me go!" and at times struggling with officers while yelling obscene insults. Video of Jones in the back of a police cruiser at one point showed him telling an officer: "I hope you die tomorrow."

Jones apologized in court for his behavior and specifically to Cincinnati police Sgt. Jarrod Cotton. His attorneys said he had been receiving treatment, including for anger management (see full story).

Chiefs: QB Mahomes inks rookie deal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs have signed quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a four-year rookie contract.

Kansas City traded its first- and third-round picks this year and its first-round pick next year to the Buffalo Bills to grab the Texas Tech quarterback with the 10th overall selection.

It was the first time Kansas City had taken a quarterback in the first round since Todd Blackledge in 1983.

The Chiefs sent the No. 27 and No. 91 overall picks in this year's draft to Buffalo in order to acquire a successor to Alex Smith. The veteran starter has two years remaining on his contract, though Smith becomes inexpensive to release after next season.

Jets: Top pick Adams signs 4-year contract
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets on Friday signed safety Jamal Adams of LSU, the sixth overall pick in the draft.

Adams gets a four-year deal worth about $22 million. As with all first-round contracts under the current labor agreement, the Jets have a fifth-year option.

All nine of the Jets' selections in April's draft have signed.

A versatile defender, Adams had one interception and four passes defensed as a junior last season, committing zero penalties as he rarely was thrown at. For his three seasons at the school, he played in 37 games (26 starts) with five interceptions, 14 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one recovery, 209 tackles and 17 1-2 tackles for loss.

Adams is expected to be a starter this season for the rebuilding Jets.