Now, exhibits some natural lateral ability and athleticism when asked to disengage and fight his way off blocks. But, struggles to maintain balance, lacks great body control and seems to eventually get too upright and allow opposing linemen to get their hands on him, lock out and seal him from the play.
Fires off the football too high inside vs. the run game, although he does do a nice job of extending his arms into blockers. He simply lacks the type of size, anchor and/or leverage to hold the point of attack consistently. Is easily washed from plays and sealed away from the football and can be run at routinely inside.
Impression: An above-average athlete for an interior lineman, just isn’t overly effective in any area of the game. Looks more like a strong side defensive end in a 4-3 to me who could give you some reps down the line on first and second down. But isn’t much more than a developmental/camp guy at this stage."
Graves could fit as a rotational defensive tackle in a one-gap scheme such as the Colts or Bears, but also could have a future as a defensive end, especially as a strong-side defensive end.
A team like the Ravens, where his relative power, quickness and agility could be best utilized when the team uses a four-man front, makes sense. Fitting Graves in the right scheme and position will be important, but there is no denying his athletic talent and top intangibles will get him drafted.
Positives: Three-year starter is an agile one-gap DT prospect with potential at defensive end. Quick off the snap, staying low, and can penetrate gaps. Good athlete who can run and change direction easily. Can chase wide runs from behind. Production was somewhat limited by frequent double-teams. Blocked three kicks as a sophomore and a PAT vs. Stanford in the Orange Bowl. Hard worker and team leader.
Negatives: Is undersized to be an every-down defensive tackle and might not have much room to grow. Is not stout against the run as an interior defensive lineman. If initial penetration attempt failed, rarely did much during the play. Disappeared in some big games, especially against Boise State in 2010. While quick, agile and athletic, he's not truly elite in any category -- upside is limited. Had injury issues in 2009."
Positive: Explosive one-gap penetrating tackle best on a four-man line. Displays solid first-step quickness, plays with good pad level, and gets leverage on opponents. Fluid changing direction, tough to knock off his feet, and effectively uses his hands to protect himself. Keeps his feet moving up the field, explosive at the point, and goes hard until the whistle blows. Adequate skills chasing the action in pursuit.
Negative: Lacks bulk and easily controlled at the point by single blocker or out positioned from the play. Just a marginal pass rusher despite his athleticism.
Analysis: Graves is a solid athlete with good movement skills and is a potential three-technique lineman who can be used in a reserve role."
Negatives: Needs to get a little stronger... Does not possess explosive burst off the ball... Marginal flexibility and body control... Average anchor... Can be pushed away from the ball... Dealt with a nagging ankle injury and was far from full strength in 2009... Lacks experience at DE, has played at DT throughout his collegiate career... Tweener, does not appear to have a real position, lacks the pass rushing ability to play DE and lacks the bulk to hold up at DT... Has just 1.5 career sacks, is still a bit unproven, needs to convert QB hurries into sacks."
Weaknesses: Never lived up to his high school billing. Scouts are all over the place on Graves, and I tend to be with those who feel he will not be a major contributor at the next level. Listed 4.90 (est.) may be generous. Over-aged and has little upside left. Undersized, and rarely stands up to the double team. Will be pushed back at the pro level, unless moved outside where he hasn't played much since high school. Gets high and is driven wide on running plays. Not stout in short yardage and goal line situations. Does not get much done from the 3-tech as a pass rusher and has only 1.5 career sacks. Gets closes, but rarely finishes as a pass rusher.
Projection: Priority UDFA."
The 2009 season did not go as well, mostly due to a nagging ankle injury. Graves played in 13 games, but he was really only at full strength during the bowl game. It was during the bowl game against Tennessee that Graves recorded the first sack of his career. Fully healthy in 2010, Graves was back to his old ways for his senior season. Through 13 games, he has a career high 35 tackles and 16 quarterback hurries.
At 6-3 and 278 pounds, Graves will not be the biggest tackle in this class. In fact, he has moved between tackle and end at Virginia Tech and could face a similar dilemma at the next level. He is relatively quick, but not strong enough to beat most tackles and play at the end spot. Unfortunately Graves is a classic tweener and that will drop him down to a late round selection."
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