By JOHN SEARS - BIG TEN INSIDER
Why Graham Should Play on Saturdays:
1. 4-3 end vs. 3-4 LB? – Graham falls into the category of hybrid or tweaner, depending on your perspective. He demonstrates success with one hand down as a 4-3 end right now (his natural position), but his size and speed may make him better suited as a stand-up outside linebacker in a 3-4 set. Perhaps one more year of physical development will help scouts understand his future position in the NFL.
2. Lead the “D” next year while Michigan rebuilds – Graham seems to display a team-first, family attitude toward his Michigan brethren. He is quoted as saying leaving early would be like abandoning his team, so coming back despite partaking in one of the worst Michigan Football season ever may set a much-needed precedent of dedication and team first attitude.
3. Beat Ohio State - Graham has yet to notch a win against their hated rival. What better way to end his career as a Michigan Wolverine?
Why Graham Should Play on Sundays in 2009:
1. Because “he’s a lot like LaMarr Woodley”– Sports scouting is all about comparing unknown talent to that which is known. Derrick Harvey, defensive end from Florida, reminded everyone of…Jarvis Moss from Florida. With Graham terrorizing quarterbacks with an off-the-edge rush, he will certainly draw comparisons to the rising NFL star, LaMarr Woodley, whom Graham replaced back at Michigan. That can’t hurt his draft stock.
2. Where are the Wolverines going next year? – “It’s not about the individual.” You’re absolutely right. But if the team lays another egg, and the defense carries responsibility for that, will pro scouts look upon Graham with less admiration? Also, Michigan is pretty much a 50-50 shot to make a bowl next year, and has even less of a chance to beat Ohio State--it worth the anguish to deal with another year of losing?
3. Michigan is still without their 2009 defensive coordinator – The worst possible scenario for Graham would be a return for his senior year under a defensive coordinator that fails to put him in a position to shine. In 2008, the Wolverines rolled out a 3-3-5 look which took the edge out of the entire defense, Graham included. Flirting with another system in his senior year would hurt Graham’s potential even more.
Sears Take: Graham has stated he is returning for his senior season...which is a wise decision. While the team may not improve by leaps and bounds in 2009--Graham can. We have seen flashes of brilliance from the former 5-star recruit, but not consistency. The potential is there, no Graham needs to display more production on the field.