A first-round pick, 13th overall selection. Big expectations. Slow start to his career. Coaching changes. Revitalization.
Sure, that's Haason Reddick's story. But it's also Brandon Graham's.
BG was the 13th overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. A knee injury slowed down the start of his career. He didn't become a starter until the 2015 season under a different coaching staff. He capped off what was then a career year in 2017 with a "life-changing" play, a strip-sack of Tom Brady to help the Eagles win the Super Bowl. In 2020, Graham earned Pro Bowl honors for the first time and this season he broke the double-digit sack barrier for the first time in his career at the age of 34 coming off a season-ending Achilles injury.
Reddick was the 13th overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals, fittingly enough considering the site of Super Bowl LVII, in 2017. He was moved from an edge rusher at Temple to an off-ball linebacker and didn't thrive until he was moved back to a quarterback hunter in his fourth season, when he had 12.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He went to Carolina on a one-year deal and almost copied and pasted his stats (11 sacks, 12 tackles for loss). He was a day one free agency target for the Eagles and energized the league's best pass rush with a career-high 16 sacks, 26 QB hits, and 62 QB pressures.
"A guy with a chip on his shoulder," Graham said of Reddick. "Somebody who said that he wanted to lead the league in sacks and pretty much did that this year. Hard worker. Gotta be great to come back to your hometown and lead the league in sacks and you finally get noticed for what you've been doing the past three or four years. I was just happy that he's finally on our team and now I can see him up close. He was everything he was as advertised."
Graham and Reddick will need to apply the heat on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes come Sunday in the Super Bowl.
"Mahomes is the guy that makes them go," Graham said. "Mahomes is the guy that extends the plays and drops the dimes and he's done some great things watching film and watching him on TV. You got to make sure you contain him. You got to make sure you hit him, get him on the ground, create turnovers, make him make bad throws."
Five years ago, Graham had his career-defining moment. Will Reddick's come on Sunday?