Andrew Berry is always looking for ways to improve the Cleveland Browns.
And today, he plucked a promising young cornerback off the Chicago Bears practice squad.
Thomas Graham will join the Browns’ 53-man roster.
Graham was widely regarded as a “surprise cut” on August 31st by analysts and reporters.
Based on his mentions in his report – Bears fans seem very upset they let him go.
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) September 12, 2022
He entered training camp as a strong contender for a starting cornerback job.
But a hamstring injury limited his participation, and he ended up on the practice squad.
The second-year player out of Oregon State expected to be called up as soon as he was healthy.
But now Graham will join Joe Woods’ unit in Cleveland.
How Graham Got Here
Chicago drafted the 5’11”, 193-pounder out of Oregon State, and cut him after his first preseason camp, too.
Given the state of the Bears’ secondary, fans and analysts were surprised the rookie didn’t make the team.
But he finally got a chance to show what he could do when the entire Bears secondary came down with covid in week 14.
Graham played 100% of the defensive snaps and chipped in on special teams against the Minnesota Vikings.
This heads up play by Thomas Graham Jr. to stop the Vikings from getting a first down. 🥵 pic.twitter.com/dN2mDxAD4U
— Max Markham (@MaxMarkhamNFL) December 21, 2021
And after his 7 tackles and 3 pass breakups, Chicago signed him to the active roster the next day.
The rookie followed up his debut with 4 tackles and another pass defensed against Seattle.
He played sparingly over the final 2 weeks, accumulating just 2 more tackles.
But that was enough to make him a frontrunner to win a corner job under Chicago’s new coaching regime.
What It Means For The Browns
Graham’s draft profiles are complimentary about his ability to track the ball and recognize routes.
They also showed concern about his speed and susceptibility to fakes and changes of direction.
But he put up good statistics in 3 playing seasons at Oregon and wowed the fans in Chicago in his debut.
He also plays well off his teammates, meaning he is probably stronger in a zone or off the ball than man-to-man.
Chicago Bears CB Thomas Graham Jr. had one of the best rookie debuts of 2021 on MNF:
🔸 90.7 @PFF grade
🔸 3 PBU
🔸 1 passing stop
🔸 10 yds allowed (0 1st downs)
Smart, balanced and plays the catch point really well. Should've gone waaaay earlier than Round 6 in the draft. pic.twitter.com/wZPisS8Z5j
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) December 21, 2021
Berry added him to the roster one day after his secondary allowed 2 blown coverages to go for long touchdowns in Carolina.
But he cut Herb Miller to make room for Graham, and neither play seemed to involve Miller.
The latest press notation on Graham’s injured hamstring offered no timetable on a return.
But since Berry is willing to tie up a 53-man roster spot, it can be assumed he expects the player to contribute.