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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: EDGE Ta’Quon Graham

  • The Draft Network
  • January 13, 2021
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PROSPECT SUMMARY – TA’QUON GRAHAM

Ta’Quon Graham is a well-experienced player as he’s started in 24 of 48 games played. During that time, he’s spent most of his time at 3-technique for the Longhorns. Along the interior, he’s a long and strong interior defender that frequently uses his power to overwhelm interior blockers. While not an overly explosive player, Graham has lots of experience that has helped him become a mainstay on the team's defense. Relying heavily on his power, he’s known to use that to his advantage early on in reps prior to finishing. Showing more comfort in the B-gaps, he’s much more natural as a 3-technique. Graham’s game must continue to grow, as he doesn’t contain many moves in his arsenal and can get shifted into different directions against double teams. 

Ideal Role: Developmental 3-technique.

Scheme Fit: 3-technique in a 4-3 defensive front.

FILM EVALUATION

Written by Jordan Reid

Games watched: Texas Tech (2020), Oklahoma (2020), TCU (2020), Baylor (2020), Oklahoma State (2020), Iowa State (2020)

Best Game Studied: TCU (2020), Oklahoma State (2020)

Worst Game Studied: Baylor (2020)

First-Step Explosiveness: An average first step, Graham isn’t a 3-technique that will constantly have the first step that surprises blockers with how much anticipation and fire he comes off of the ball with. Frequently involved in stunts, he’s calculated with how quickly he comes off the ball. A penetrator from his 3-technique spot, he won’t constantly blow past the opposition strictly based on his speed alone.

Flexibility: Playing high often, Graham will need to continue to work on his pad level. As he gets deeper in reps and games, his pad levels begin to swell. The reason for many of his losses of leverage or spots in gaps is because of how high he plays. Standing nearly straight up on some reps, he has lapses in technique that force him to vacate gaps as a run defender. Playing with a more consistent pad level could enable him to eventually become a more reliable run defender. 

Hand Counters: More of an interior defender that wants to win with his initial power, Graham doesn’t show to be much of a counter puncher or one that can readjust his plan after initial moves. Relying a lot on his natural power, he’s a player that wants to push the interior of the pocket in hopes of overwhelming interior blockers at the point of attack. Developing more moves other than a bull rush will be needed as he transitions to the next level. Currently, many of his plans are dull and lack creativity, but he’s been able to get away with it because of his power.

Hand Power: Well above average strength at the point of attack has helped him create habits of simply using his hands to knock blockers off their platforms. A well developed lower half combined with strong hands helps him to overpower blockers on his way to locating where the ball is. Possessing very strong hands, Graham's strength is much further along than what his top half indicates. 

Run Defending: In single situations, he’s been able to consistently hold up in his gap and eventually have an effect on plays. His biggest shortcomings happen when forced to take on double teams. He has a strong lower half, but he doesn’t consistently understand how to use his anchor to drop his weight and clog his gap. Playing high often negatively affects him against combo blocks and he eventually gets knocked off his spot or turned out of it altogether. 

Effort/Motor: Graham has spurts where he plays extremely hard. Often amped up when he’s involved in a twist or stunt up front, he makes it noticeable when favorable play calls are centered around him. Used as both the crasher and looper, he’s experienced success playing both roles. His motor is average outside of the creative play calls that he’s involved in. 

Football IQ: Still a work in progress, his football I.Q. lacks in multiple areas, as he has troubles with seeing and anticipating actual concepts. His power helps save him frequently from misreads or missteps at the point of attack. He has plays where he’s able to attack flat down the line and have an impact on plays, but there’s a lot of room to grow as a pass rusher. 

Lateral Mobility: A below-average athlete, Graham’s biggest hurdles come when asked to move laterally or change directions suddenly. There are many examples where he struggles to redirect and alter his directions. With a slight pause, he’s able to change his directions and then continue his chase-down process. 

Core/Functional Strength: One of his better traits is his natural power, but Graham doesn’t always put it to good use. One-on-one matchups are favorable for him because of his ability to overpower others at the point of attack, but if he’s unable to figure out certain techniques that go behind certain aspects of the position, he will quickly become exposed and unable to strictly use his body strength.

Versatility: Playing both 1- and 3-technique, Graham proved to be a consistent player from both spots. With most of his success coming when he was aligned in the B-gap, his best long-term outside suggests that it’s as a 3-technique. With limited upside as a pass rush specialist, his best outlook is as a run defending 3-technique, but defensive play-callers will need to become creative in order for him to have any type of effect as a pass rusher.

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Jordan Reid: 67/100

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