The Wolverine

August 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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AUGUST 2018 THE WOLVERINE 47 players, while Pro Football Focus' (PFF) metrics-driven rankings tabbed him as the No. 1 quarterback and No. 2 overall player. It marked Brady's second straight year and third time overall atop the NFL Network list — a title no other player has earned more than once — and the second straight campaign PFF named him the best quarterback after he won the title as the league's No. 1 overall player in 2016. Brady's 66,159 career passing yards are good for fourth on the game's all- time list, trailing Peyton Manning's record of 71,940 by just 5,781 (New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is the only active player ahead of Brady, with 70,445 yards). The Pats' signal-caller is also in reach of Manning's all-time touch- down passes record, needing just 52 more to break his tally of 539 (Brees is actually tied with Brady in this statistic, however, at 488). 2. TAYLOR LEWAN, OT TENNESSEE TITANS (NFL) Lewan started all 16 contests at left tackle for the Titans last year, and found himself in the Pro Bowl for the second straight season. The 6-7, 309-pounder has been in- credibly durable during his four years in the NFL, starting 53 of the 58 affairs he has participated in (the only five games he played in but didn't start oc- curred during his rookie campaign). Both NFL Network and PFF had plenty of praise for Lewan at year's end. The former pegged him to the No. 78 spot on their countdown of the game's 100 best players in 2017, a year after placing him No. 72. He has yielded just five sacks the last two seasons. "I play hard," he told NFL Net- work. "When I was in high school, there was a YouTube video of my junior highlights that came out, and let me tell you I was trash. I was a nose tackle — and it was bad. A kid I went to school with commented on it and said I only play one in every four snaps or something along those lines. "To this day, that still sticks with me. I've had a new opportunity to redefine myself, and I told myself to never be the guy that quits." PFF, meanwhile, gave him an 80.1 overall grade for the 2017 campaign, citing him as the league's 16th-best tackle. They noted that he excelled especially in pass blocking efficiency, giving him a 96.5 mark in that depart- ment, which ranked 12th among all NFL tackles. He's a huge part — liter- ally and figuratively — of the front- line unit PFF ranked as the league's fifth best entering 2018. 3. RICH HILL, LHP LOS ANGELES DODGERS (MLB) Brady gets almost all the attention when it comes to former Wolverine veterans in the pros, but Hill also de- serves some of the headlines after his incredible 2017 season. The lefty compiled a 3.32 ERA in 25 starts for the National League cham- pion Dodgers, racking up a 12-8 re- cord and a 1.09 WHIP along the way. The 12 wins tied a career high set in 2016. The 25 starts were the second most of the 38-year-old's career, and so were his 135 2 ⁄3 innings. In fact, it marked his most work since 2007, when he tossed 195 innings in 32 starts with the Chicago Cubs. Hill also won National League Pitcher of the Month in July, but it was his postseason performance that cemented his legacy in Dodger lore. In five playoff starts (including two in the World Series against the Houston Astros), he compiled a 2.55 ERA while allowing a total of just five earned runs in four starts. However, the 14th-year professional has not been able to follow up that success throughout the 2018 season. Through July 19, he has racked up a 4.55 ERA and 2-4 record in 11 starts (12 appearances) with Los Angeles. It should be noted that he has spent time on the disabled list, though, due to a nagging blister on his finger. 4. BRANDON GRAHAM, DE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (NFL) Graham's NFL career got off to a bit of a slow start when he first arrived in the league in 2010, but he has steadily picked up his play ever since. He recorded just three sacks and 17 total tackles throughout his first two years with the Eagles, but experienced a bit of a breakthrough in 2012 when he racked up 38 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Since 2014, Graham has accumulated at least 5.5 quarterback takedowns ev- ery year, and he has started all 31 of the games he has appeared in over the last two campaigns. The 30-year-old had his best season in 2017 when he tallied a career-high 9.5 sacks, a regular-season total that ranked 19th in the league. However, it was a play in the Su- per Bowl that helped him become a Philadelphia legend. With just 2:13 left in the game, Graham recorded a strip sack of Brady and the Eagles recovered the football, helping to seal the cham- pionship. He was also stout against the run, leading all edge defenders in run-stop percentage (13.7), according to PFF. The website pegged him as the No. 27 overall player in 2017 — his fourth appearance on their top 101 — and tabbed him No. 25 on their list of the 50 best football players heading into 2018. "As part of the most dominant de- fensive front in football last year, Gra- ham notched 78 total pressures in 2017, including the playoffs, to go with the NO CHANGE AT THE TOP Players Come And Go, But Tom Brady Remains The Best U-M Pro

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