Brandon Graham was asked to give a scouting report on what kind of player the Eagles drafted themselves Thursday night.
“Great pass rusher. Disruptive run stopper. High-motor guy,” the former Michigan defensive end said, of course, describing himself.
And then, as if he caught himself, he added, “Humble guy. Coachable kid.”
Andy Reid would have likely been pleased by those last two statements. The Eagles coach, after all, traded away three draft picks to move up and grab Graham, a player Reid said the Eagles had targeted for sometime.
“It was a sticky area,” Reid said after the Eagles jumped ahead from the 24th pick into the 13th in a trade with Denver. “The good defensive ends, the good secondary players, the good offensive tackles – those guys normally go early in the draft.”
It’s the first time the Eagles have taken a defensive end since 2003 when they traded up to pick Jerome McDougle of Miami. McDougle never panned out, partly because of a freak incident when he was shot during an attempted carjacking.
Reid said the Eagles had gone into the off-season knowing they needed to improve their pass rush. They tried to get defensive end Julius Peppers, but the All-Pro free agent went to the highest bidder – the Bears.
They did trade for Seattle defensive end Darryl Tapp, however, back in March, and knew that they could get an end in a deep draft to complement Pro Bowler Trent Cole on the right side. Cole, double- and triple-teamed all year, had worn down by the end of season and the Eagles' pass rush was non-existent in the two season-ending losses to Dallas.
“We went into this off-season wanting to better ourselves on the defensive line,” Reid said. “We think that this helps us out. The thing I know with a good defensive line is that it makes everybody around them better.”
To get Graham, listed at 6-foot-1, 268-pounds, the Eagles packaged both of their third round picks – the 70th and 87th overall – along with their first-round, 24th overall pick. Denver was originally slated to select with the 11th pick, but it moved back two spots in a trade with San Francisco.
Reid said that he spoke with the Broncos even before the first trade and was still confident that he could get Graham even though he knew the Giants, among other teams, were interested in the 22 year-old.
Perhaps more important to Reid, the Eagles were able to hold into both their second-round selections – the 37th overall pick and the one they received from Washington in exchange for Donovan McNabb and the 55th overall pick.
“We wanted to keep our two twos,” Reid said. “That’s what we wanted to do and have something to do tomorrow. … Those are two valuable picks there.”
In four years at Ann Arbor, Graham recorded 29.5 sacks and 56 tackles for loss. He had entered the off-season evaluation period with questions about his height, however. But he answered those concerns with an MVP performance in the Senior Bowl in January, recording two sacks, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
“After the Senior Bowl," Graham said, "I really didn’t hear that too much."
In taking Graham, the Eagles passed on defensive ends Derrick Morgan of Georgia Tech and Coatesville and South Florida’s Jason Pierre-Paul, who went to Giants with the 15th pick. Morgan went to Tennessee at 16. Reid, though, said they got one of the guys general manager Howie Roseman had spotted and liked during his college scouting trips.
“He looks a little bit like Hugh Douglas. He kind of plays like Hugh Douglas,” Reid said, referring to the former Eagles Pro Bowl end. “He is a relentless, relentless player.”
The Eagles also passed on a number of other players they were rumored to covet – safety Earl Thomas of Texas, cornerback Kyle Wilson of Boise State and center Maurkice Pouncey of Florida. Even Graham was shocked the Eagles took him.
“I was very surprised because the Eagles at the combine – for 15 minutes I talked to a couple of scouts,” Graham said. “But never in a million years did I think Philadelphia was coming for me.”
Graham is hoping to contribute right away.
“I haven’t sat on the bench for so many years and I’m not trying to start now,” he said. “I don’t want to talk about it much. I just want to go show it.”
Now there’s some humbleness.