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Posted on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 : 12:17 a.m.

Brandon Graham surprised, excited the Eagles drafted him 13th overall

By Dave Birkett

Thumbnail image for Brandon-Graham-040810.jpg

Next stop for Brandon Graham: Philadelphia. (File photo)

BIRMINGHAM - By 10 p.m. Thursday, about an hour after the Philadelphia Eagles made him the 13th pick of the NFL draft, Brandon Graham had 206 unopened text messages and a voice mailbox full of unanswered phone calls.

“I’ll get to them tomorrow,” Graham said in the lobby of the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, where he hosted a draft party for about 30 family members and friends. “Maybe.”

The Eagles traded up 11 spots in the first round, swapping two third-round picks and their own first-rounder with Denver, to make Graham the pass-rushing left end they’ll build their defense around.

Graham said he was shocked the Eagles took him. He visited five teams and worked out privately for three others in the weeks leading up to the draft, but had only one 15-minute conversation with Philadelphia scouts at the NFL combine in February.

“The Eagles never showed any interest at all,” Graham said. “I knew it was going to be like that. I knew it was going to be a team that I didn’t even expect.”

Graham said his agent, Joel Segal, called minutes before the pick was official to let him know Philadelphia's plans. When he talked to Eagles coach Andy Reid, general manager Howie Roseman and assistant coaches Sean McDermott and Rory Segrest a short while later, Graham was overcome with excitement.

“I was just like a bomb just went off,” he said. “Like, ‘Dang, boy. It’s happening. It’s here.’”

Reid, in a press conference Thursday night, said the Eagles were intent on bettering their pass rush and Graham “was the best defensive lineman out there to help us out.”

“The thing we liked about Brandon was he’s a relentless player,” Reid said. “The thing I know with good defensive linemen is it makes everybody around them better. So, when you have a defensive line that’s getting after it, all of a sudden the corners look a little better and the safeties look a little better and the linebackers look a little better. That’s why we made this move.” Graham, who Reid compared to former Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas, was one of the few bright spots in Michigan’s 5-7 season last year.

He led the nation with 26 tackles for loss, won the Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football Award as Big Ten MVP and solidified his stock as a first-round pick with a dominant showing at the Senior Bowl in January.

Reid said Graham’s Senior Bowl performance and a two-sack, nine-tackle game against Iowa left tackle Bryan Bulaga, the 23rd overall pick in the draft by the Green Bay Packers, helped set him apart as a pass rusher.

“I put a lot of value in guys that love to play the game and play relentless football and that have the character,” he said. “I thought he kind of filled all those spots. I also like defensive linemen that can do a good job of playing and making plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage. There weren’t a lot of them that were better in college football than this kid.”

Graham said that won’t change now that he’s in the NFL.

He's scheduled to fly to Philadelphia at 10:15 a.m. today for an introductory press conference and to see the organization. The expectation, he said, is to start as a rookie opposite Pro Bowl right end Trent Cole and help the Eagles get back to the playoffs.

"I'm stepping into some big shoes," Graham said. "Just from the pass rushers they had in the past, they want me to surpass everybody. They want me to be the next best thing. They want me to be that guy that they talk about.

“I’m going to a real decent team that can really compete next year. I’m just hyped because I’m about to go in there and try to do my thing."

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Sat, Apr 24, 2010 : 12:50 p.m.

That picture tells the story, Brandon was shaped and turned into a Big Blue Fighting Machine by Rodriguez, Barwis and staff - does it really matter who recruited him. Compare pictures of Brandon as a sophomore and now - big difference. Yes, Carr recruited him, but it took the Rodriguez and team to shape him. I believe in Rodriguez and everything on the football field is starting to fall in place. Just like Brandon overtook Tebow, watch for Robinson to overtake pryor, and Rodriguez at tressel.


Sat, Apr 24, 2010 : 12:22 p.m.

Carr most certainly left the cupboard bare. Our king and his fine men found some scraps left over in the cupboard, shaped them into 4 fine draft choices, are building a team around them and their new recruits, and will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. I see iowa and wisconsin giving us a battle, either 10 or 12 wins. Question; what does 2018 have in common with UM? Coach RichRod starting his eleventh year, 8 straight bowl wins (3 - NC), 17 billion happy fans, and a disappearing act from the outsider UM FB attackers.

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

Fri, Apr 23, 2010 : 10:54 p.m.

"An LC guy? LC might have recruited him but RR and co. helped developed Graham into the player he is today." I love it. Lloyd Carr left the cupboard bare except for the outstanding players he left behind, who owe their abilities to RichRod. How about the other way: Carr left plenty of talent behind that RichRod has failed to develop and/or to take advantage of. No matter. This team will be lucky to win five games this year, and the RichRod disaster will be behind us.


Fri, Apr 23, 2010 : 12:24 p.m.

Hey... weren't the cupboards bare at Michigan? How is this guy a first round selection?

Terry Star21

Fri, Apr 23, 2010 : 10:53 a.m.

Very nice for Brandon, he deserves everything coming to him in the NFL joining teammate Jason Advant and others at Philly. This is most certainly a tribute to Barwis and RichRod for shaping him physically and training and encouraging him. Yes, he was outspoken, but his words were so inspiring and sometimes even a bit far fetched - but it was everything that made him the explosive player is is... Best wishes Brandon! for Theo; Michigan - 68 -0 @ halftime, UConn doesn't come back out of the locker room.


Fri, Apr 23, 2010 : 9:47 a.m.

Very impressive that Philly traded up so far to get him. And I'm sure Graham is extremely happy with where he was picked. I hope he does really, really well for Philadelphia. He should, because of the strong effort he puts in on every play. The problem with many of these hot-shot d-linemen coming out of college with impressive physical skills is their sub-par effort on many plays. In the NFL, everyone is really good and if your effort stinks, you won't last. Again, Graham should excel because of that.

Guinea Pig in a Tophat

Fri, Apr 23, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

I'm happy for Graham! He was a fun guy to watch. I will miss him making other teams' QBs eat dirt.


Fri, Apr 23, 2010 : 12:09 a.m.

Man I was really hoping the Lions would somehow get Suh plus Graham. After passing on LaMarr Woodley in the 2nd round of the'07 draft and seeing how much he's become one of the leagues best LB's, I was hoping they could of made up for that mistake with Brandon, but I'll settle for Suh.


Thu, Apr 22, 2010 : 11:28 p.m.

An LC guy? LC might have recruited him but RR and co. helped developed Graham into the player he is today. Didn't he drop like 30 lbs? Barwis was also key in developing Graham. The new staff deserves just as much credit for making Graham into the player that was just drafted at 13 in the first round.


Thu, Apr 22, 2010 : 10:50 p.m.

Most excellent, even the Burger King guy would like this.... interesting that Brandon visited five teams, but not Philly.. I guess, hard to figure... they wanted him very bad. I heard that teams had invited him to visit and recently the Patriots invited Zoltan Mesko to visit... not sure from the article if he was invited, couldn't make it or what happened... bottom line, they wanted him. Who cares? Why these are Christmas presents to the Michigan Faithful - Hall, Long and Graham, 3 - straight first rounders.... Most excellent.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Apr 22, 2010 : 10:30 p.m.

I care. I like the NFL game, and enjoy watching Michigan players in the pros. Congratulations. The Eagles gave up a lot to move up to take Graham. It's nice to be wanted. I didn't think he'd go that high.


Thu, Apr 22, 2010 : 10:21 p.m.

Who cares?


Thu, Apr 22, 2010 : 9:10 p.m.

Excellent pickup by Philly, Grahm was a great End. Now comes the time to figure out just who is going to replace this animal. Maybe a true freshmen? Maybe a walk on? Last years D in my eyes was Brandon and then 10 regular guys. Im glad for brandon that the scouts were able to see past the 10 regular guys. So long to another one of Lloyds old fashioned guys.