Jalen Graham was the first Boilermaker out of the gate at the combine yesterday. Things did not go according to plan. In my combine invite article I said, “He’ll need to test out as an elite athlete at the combine, and he has that potential.” Buddy, I missed the boat on that one. He’ll need to repair some of the damage done in Indianapolis at Purdue’s pro-day, because at the moment, he’s gone from a 6-7th round to UDFA, based on yesterday.
Arm Length: 33”
Hand Size: 9 7/8
At least things started O.K. for Graham. He came in a little light at 220. That makes him the second lightest linebacker at the combine behind Georgia Tech’s Charlie Jones. That’s not terrible for Graham, because he’s always been on the thin side, and it should let him run faster. 6’2” is an inch shorter than he was listed at Purdue but that’s right on par with other second level linebackers.
33 inches is great for Graham. His arm length is the best thing that happened to him yesterday. He’s a coverage linebacker, and having long arms helps him with that task. Hand size is also decent, but I’m not exactly sure what that has to do with playing linebacker.
After measurements, Graham looked like a draftable coverage linebacker.
40 Yard Dash
Rank: Tied for 14th out of 16 linebackers
Ooooof, this needed to be in the 4.5’s. He only ran faster than 6’5”, 249 pound Jack Campbell and Indiana’s Cam Jones (who also had an awful day). To put this time in perspective, Owen Pappoe, another coverage linebacker, ran the fastest linebacker 40 at 4.39. Trenton Simpson, anticipated to be the first coverage linebacker off the board ran a 4.43. I was certain Graham was going to run somewhere in the mid 4.5’s, but a slow start (as seen below) in both attempts doomed him.
10 Yard Split
Rank: 16th out of 16 linebackers
Oh, that’s not good. NFL teams are interested in the first 10 yards of the 40 because NFL linebackers don’t tend to run many 40 yard sprints. The first 10 yards are what get you to a ball carrier or keep you running with a tight end. Graham’s was the slowest of the linebackers. Cam Jones had the second slowest split at 1.62. Graham’s slow start is probably the reason for his slow 40 time. The good news is, some of this can be helped with more track and field training. Good technique can shave off time. The bad news, of course, is that’s what he should have been focusing on over the last several months.
Rank: Tied for 15th out of 15
Welp, I did not expect Graham to tie for last place in the vert. At his weight, he needed to at least be in the middle, if not towards the top. Vertical jumping, in theory, is a decent measure of explosive power. Vanderbilt’s Anfernee Orji set a high bar, jumping 38.5. 249 pound Jack Campbell put up the 3rd best vert at 37.5, despite carrying almost 30 more pounds than Graham. Again, some of this is technique, but you’ve got to think he’s been practicing. Another red flag, in terms of potential.
Another measure of explosiveness, another abysmal showing. The next shortest broad jump was 9’7”, Graham came in last by 3 inches. The bast broad jump came from Yasir Abdullah, who went 10’9”, over a foot farther than Graham. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but it’s bad.
Jalen needs to flush yesterday and get ready for Purdue’s pro day if he has intentions of hearing his name called in any round. It’s wild to see someone consistently finish at the bottom of each event. My hope is that yesterday was indeed, just a bad day. Otherwise, he had to know that this would be the result, and he participated anyway.
Graham has decent film, and an intriguing, versatile skill set, but his production wasn’t great at Purdue and these combine numbers are bad. I’m not sure the film and skill set can overcome production and physical limitations. Hopefully he gets this sorted out, because he’s an exciting player. He’s got an uphill climb to get back into the 7th round. It only takes one team, but those teams tend to draft on athletic upside at the end of the draft.