Nigel Bradham, linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles
Weight: 241 pounds
2017 Stats: 88 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 8 passes defended, 1 fumble recovered, 1 touchdown
Career (6 seasons): 447 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 25 passes defended, 2 interceptions, 3 fumbles recovered, 1 touchdown
Nigel Bradham is a really solid linebacker, who can do a little bit of everything. He received a grade of 82.2 this season from Pro Football Focus, an above average score and the 18th best among all linebackers in the NFL.
The first thing that stands out to me about Bradham when watching his game film is his ability in pass coverage. The Lions have not had a linebacker anywhere near as good at it as him since the days of DeAndre Levy, so that aspect of his game would be very welcome in Detroit.
On this play against the Panthers, Bradham does an excellent job of dropping back into zone coverage. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton tried to force the ball behind Bradham and to his 6’5″ receiver Kelvin Benjamin, but Bradham didn’t allow it to happen. Bradham did a great job of reading Newton’s eyes and hopping up to defend the pass.
This play against the Bears from 2016 is very similar to the previous one. Bradham initially looked like he is going to blitz, but read Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s eyes all the way, and dropped back into zone coverage. Cutler tried to get the ball over the head of Bradham, but it was too late, and Bradham intercepted the pass, returning it for a big gain.
Bradham is also an extremely strong tackler. When he gets his hands on you, you are not going to get away.
Here, Bradham really showcases his tackling ability against Cam Newton (who is three inches taller and nearly 20 pounds heavier than Bradham). On this passing play, Newton decided to try and scramble for yards after no receivers could get open. Newton went towards the sideline, trying to elude Eagles defenders, but Bradham would have none of it. Bradham came flying in, showing great closing speed, and made a fantastic wrap up tackle to limit Newton to a short gain.
This is another really impressive tackle from Bradham. Bradham is one on one with star rookie running back Christian McCaffrey in a goal line situation on this play, an extremely difficult match up for any linebacker. McCaffrey caught the pass in the flat, and just had to make Bradham miss to get into the end zone. Instead of that happening though, Bradham again showed great closing speed and put a big hit on McCaffrey, limiting him to a short gain.
Nigel Bradham makes good use of his tackling ability in the run game, where he has a really good sense for how run plays are going to develop.
On this play, Carolina ran a toss to the outside, with a fake wide receiver sweep built in to try and confuse the defense. Bradham’s eyes never even left the running back on this play, and he knew exactly where the play was going. Bradham then zoomed into the backfield and made a really solid wrap up tackle for a big loss. Nigel Bradham has a very good sense for what opposing teams are trying to do in the run game, as shown by this play.
The biggest downside to signing Bradham is his numerous run ins with the law. In 2013, Bradham was charged with possession of marijuana, although he got a judge to drop it in court.
Later, in 2016, Bradham was arrested again, this time for assaulting a hotel worker. Bradham reportedly bought an umbrella from the hotel worker, and when the worker did not bring it to him quickly enough, got angry and attacked the worker.
Then, later in 2016, Nigel Bradham was arrested for bringing a loaded gun into an airport. He had the gun his bag when it was put through the airport security x-ray. Bradham claimed to have forgotten then gun was in his bag, and he did have a concealed carry permit for it.
On the football field, Nigel Bradham has been an excellent player throughout his career. The primary concerns regarding him are off the field issues, where he has consistently gotten into trouble.
Should The Lions Sign Him?
If the Lions were to sign Nigel Bradham, he would instantly be the best linebacker on the team. Linebacker has been one of the weakest positions on the Lions roster since 2014, the last year when DeAndre Levy played the full season.
Besides Bradham just being a better player than any linebackers currently on the Lions, he would also take pressure off of 2017 rookies Jarrad Davis and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. With Bradham to play beside them, both of those guys would have more margin for error, and Bradham’s presence could them a lot in terms of NFL development.
Bradham is easily an upgrade over pending free agent linebacker Tahir Whitehad, but is also likely to cost a lot more. The highest paid 4-3 outside linebacker’s in the NFL are guys like Telvin Smith, Vontaze Burfict, and Lavonte David, who all make between $10 and $12 million per year. Bradham’s current salary is $3.5 million. If the Lions could convince Bradham to take a deal somewhere in between those two figures, maybe in the $6-8 million range, signing him would be a no brainier.
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