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Football Outsiders Projects Graham, Te'o-Nesheim

As we bide our time until the rookies and selected veterans report to Lehigh on July 26, worthwhile football news is hard to come by. But yesterday, on a day dominated by basketball news, a treasure trove of football information was unleashed by the good folks over at Football Outsiders.

The Football Outsiders Almanac 2010 includes comprehensive profiles of every NFL team, extensive fantasy football projections and some ground-breaking research. There is simply too much Eagles-related content to delve into it all at once, so we'll start with an interesting take on two of the newest Eagles.

Football Outsider's SackSEER model is used to project how incoming pass rushers will translate their collegiate success onto the field at the professional level. The four factors that the formula uses to predict success are vertical leap, short shuttle time, the total number of eligible games missed by a player in college and "SRAM," an adjusted measure of sack productivity in college.

On the whole, SackSEER is more effective at identifying "busts" than predicting superstars, but it has also foreseen success from under-drafted players like Aaron Schobel (to get the full nuts and bolts of the formula, buy the almanac). So, what does SackSEER see for the two defensive ends drafted early by the Eagles?

"There is a lot to like about Graham," writes Nate Forster. "He has the highest SRAM of any Division I edge rusher in this draft, save for the injury-prone Greg Hardy, and his SRAM does not even take into account his dominating performance in the Senior Bowl." Again, SRAM is an adjusted measure of collegiate sack productivity, so Graham's 29.5 sacks in the difficult Big Ten could portend big things. Also on Graham's side is his impressive 4.25 short shuttle time.

The one measure holding Graham back from a really positive forecast is his 31.5-inch vertical leap. However, Forster says Graham's combine leap "was possibly affected by his recent hamstring injury." So overall, Graham is projected by SackSEER to accumulate 22.5 sacks over the next five years. That may not sound like superstar material, but keep in mind that the model tends to keep projections low because of the great amount of "busts" at the defensive end position. That 22.5 sack projection is the third highest among all defensive ends taken in the first two rounds, behind only Jerry Hughes (27.7) and Derrick Morgan (22.9). If you remember, Morgan was picked three spots behind Graham at No. 16 overall by the Tennessee Titans, and one spot after Jason Pierre-Paul, who went to the New York Giants. Incidentally, SackSEER does not expect big things at all from Pierre-Paul. Rather, the model forecasts a paltry 4.5 sacks over the five years, based on sub-standard results in the vertical jump, short shuttle and 24 missed games in college.

The news on the Eagles' third-round pick, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, though, is exceedingly optimistic. The 86th overall pick is "SackSEER's number one sleeper," according to Forster. Te'o-Nesheim "hits on all four of the SackSEER metrics. Te'o-Nesheim was a productive and dependable defensive end for the Washington Huskies, dominating the Pac-10 with a 0.61 SRAM and never missing a single game. Although draft pundits opined that Te'o-Nesheim lacked the athleticism to compete at the NFL level, Te'o-Nesheim offered a resounding rebuttal at the Combine, recording a 37-inch vertical leap and a 4.18-second short shuttle."

Te'o-Nesheim is expected to step in and contribute right away for the Eagles as pass rusher on the outside and up the middle. He spent the spring working with the first-team nickel defense at defensive tackle and with the second- and third-teams at left defensive end. But, if SackSEER's crystal ball is correct, it won't be long before Te'o-Nesheim makes a serious mark. "We would not be surprised if Te'o-Nesheim develops into the strongest edge rusher of this draft class," Forster writes.

Get your copy of the *Football Outsider's Almanac 2010 *here.

-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 1:40 p.m., July 9

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