The Eagles moved up 11 spots and chose Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham with the 13th pick.
“I didn’t know at all – I didn’t take a visit there; I just met with them at the combine,” said Graham, whom Eagles coach Andy Reid compared to Hugh Douglas and Trent Cole. “I’m just happy they see a lot in me. I see a lot in myself, too, and I’m going to give ‘em what they want.”
"I don't like to talk about too much, I just want to show it," he added.
The Birds presumably were looking to move up and get a safety, potentially Texas safety Earl Thomas. Instead they opted for an outside pass rusher. Thomas went one pick later to Seattle. Reid said Graham was the only player that the Eagles considered moving up to get.
The Eagles gave up both of their third-round picks along with their first-round pick at No. 24 to move up to No. 13, the spot occupied by Denver. The Broncos had earlier traded back from No. 11 with San Francisco.
“Brandon, we thought was the best defensive lineman out there to help us out,” Reid said. The Eagles, Reid said, had targeted Graham and figured they had to trade up into the early teens to get him.
“The thing we liked with Brandon is, he’s a relentless player,” Reid said. “I think the combination of Brandon and our other defensive linemen, Trent Cole and so on, the addition of (Darryl) Tapp with (Juqua Parker) and (Victor) Abiamiri, that’s a great combination of guys right there. We went into this offseason wanting to better ourselves on the defensive line.”
The Birds have traded up in the first round for the sixth time in 8 years. The Eagles last picked in their designated spot in 2006 when they selected defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley from Florida State.
Graham, 6-1, 238, played in 46 games at Michigan, starting 28 times – 23 at left defensive end and five at right end. He finished with 138 tackles (85 solos) with 29.5 sacks for minus 219 yards, 56 stops for losses of 282 yards and three pressures. He caused eight fumbles and recovered three others.
He also ranks second in school history with 29.5 sacks, topped by Mark Messner (36.0, 1985-88).
The Eagles have seven remaining draft picks. Rounds 2 and 3 are tomorrow and Rounds 4 through 7 are set for Saturday.
Here is more from Graham during his conference call with reporters:
On how it makes him feel to know how much the Eagles gave up to get him: “It makes me feel real good. I know that I have a lot of responsibility, because if they’re going to trade up for me, they’re expecting a lot from me. I’m going to give them what they’re looking for. I just appreciate the opportunity to be a Philadelphia Eagle.”
On whether he has heard comparisons of himself to Hugh Douglas and Trent Cole: “No, I have never [heard that before]. I don’t know too much, I’ve just heard the names. I’ve looked at the guys like the [Elvis] Dumervils—the guys that are my size—and see what I can take from their games and help my game. For Philadelphia to see that in me, I’m glad it made them make a move to get me, and I appreciate that.”
On whether he can contribute right away: “I haven’t sat on the bench for so many years, and I’m not trying to start now. I’m trying to come in and get as much done as I can. I’m trying to learn as much as I can, and I’m just going to show it—I don’t like to talk about it too much. I know coach wants me out there as much as possible and I’m going try to do that. I want to be a starter.”
On the concern about his height as a pass rushing defensive end: “I think after the Senior Bowl, I really didn’t hear that too much after that. I had a good Senior Bowl, and I wanted to let them know that it’s not about my height. I’m going to play hard until the whistle. I’m a strong guy and I believe I know how to play football, and I’m going to get to the ball. And after they saw me at the Senior Bowl, I don’t think that’s too much of a question anymore.”
On describing himself as a player: “Great pass rusher, disruptive run stopper, a high motor guy—a humble guy. A coachable kid. Somebody who is going to come in and try to learn. I’m just somebody who loves the game of football.”
On whether he feels he is going to be a standout player rather than a role player: “I’m going to do whatever the team wants me to do. At the same time I’m going in there with the mentality to try to learn anything I can to get out there on the field the best way I can. If it’s starting off special teams, anything, if I got to get out there, I got to get out there. I’m just not used to getting cold on the bench or sitting on the bench. I like to be out there helping my team win.”
To see video highlights and learn more about Brandon Graham, click here.