Jalen Graham, OLB, Purdue | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Jalen Graham is a converted defensive back who had a senior season limited by injury. Is his résumé enough for teams to overlook his size?

Linebackers are rapidly becoming among the better all-around athletes on NFL rosters. Your off-ball linebacker can no longer just be a downhill thumper who stuffs the run. With the proliferation of pass-catching tight ends, running backs involved in the passing game, etc., LBs must have the skills to be stout enough to take on double-teams and cover down the field.

It only takes one team for Jalen Graham to hear his name during the NFL Draft night. However, as we’ll lay out in his scouting report, there are some concerns with Graham’s athleticism and explosiveness that may extend his night significantly.

Jalen Graham NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Linebacker
  • School: Purdue
  • Year: Senior

Coming out of high school, Graham was rated as a three-star defensive back by 247 Sports, Rivals, and ESPN. In 2018, his team went 11-2 and made it to the second round of the Michigan state playoffs. That year, Graham was named Detroit News’ first-team all-state and was named honorable mention for the same award by the AP.

As a freshman at Purdue in 2019, Graham appeared in 11 games, eight of those being starts. That year, he had 37 tackles, including 24 solo, with 2.5 of them being for a loss. Graham’s sophomore year saw him take a bit of a step back, however, as he only appeared in five games — recording just 16 tackles overall. He did force a fumble and recovered two additional ones.

As a junior, Graham got back on track and began to gain notice. Appearing in 13 games and starting every one of them, he was named All-Big Ten honorable mention by coaches and media. Graham had 64 tackles — 45 of which were solo and four for a loss — and a sack. He also managed to record his first two career interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, and had seven pass deflections.

Graham ended his college career on track for similar production. He appeared in only nine games due to injury. Despite that, he still finished second on the team in tackles with 52 and had five tackles for a loss with a sack.

MORE: 100% Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator

You may recall, Graham could have had a second interception return touchdown but had a pick-six vs. Northwestern nullified when he was flagged for high-stepping en route to the end zone.

Unfortunately, Graham’s athletic testing at the NFL Combine was quite poor. He scored only a 4.23 Relative Athletic Score with poor marks in size, agility, and explosion. The size is a bit unsurprising, given he is a converted high school DB. Yet, the explosion numbers being poor stick out given the production he was able to achieve in college.

Jalen Graham Scouting Report

Strengths: Athletic linebacker who has been underrated his entire career. Breaks down well, uses his hands to protect himself, and fluidly moves in every direction. Fast in pursuit, flies around the ball, and gets out to the flanks to make plays against the run or pass. Remains disciplined with assignments, fires upfield to fill gaps against the run, and sells out on the blitz. Instinctive, displays good recognition, and doesn’t have lapses.

Weaknesses: Undersized, lacks strength, and gets controlled by running backs. Doesn’t possess much growth potential.

Overall: Graham has been a draftable player on my board since his freshman season, when he broke in with the Boilermaker defense and had a productive campaign. Overlooked by scouts entering the season, he’s made a late charge up all boards and is an athletic linebacker with scheme versatility who should also be effective on coverage units.

Jalen Graham Combine Measurements and Results

The NFL Scouting Combine gives us a great opportunity to see how players stack up in various testing environments. Luckily, PFN has full databases of both NFL Combine measurements and NFL Combine results. Below is everything you need to know from Graham’s Combine performance.

  • Height: 6017
  • Weight: 220
  • Arm: 33
  • Hand: 9 ⅞”
  • Bench Press: 18
  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.64

Jalen Graham Current Draft Projection

According to Tony Pauline’s Big Board, Graham is projected as a sixth-round draft pick. His 3.33 score ranked him as the 16th-best available outside linebacker and 220th overall player.

Again, the limits in Graham’s size and explosiveness may outweigh his college résumé for some teams. The injury his senior year, limiting his ability to improve from his junior year, is also not ideal. However, for some, the résumé may have shown enough promise to take a risk, especially if they feel his instincts outweigh his athletic testing numbers.

MORE: When Is the 2023 NFL Draft?

In the last Pro Football Mock Draft Simulator run-through I did, Graham was selected with pick 182 in Round 6 by the Los Angeles Rams. That’s just about where Pauline projects him to be selected. The Rams are going through a full rebuild and have needs at linebacker and edge. Getting young, productive players on an aging defense late in the draft could prove dividends as they look to find diamonds in the rough.

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