HS Coach: Birds Got Blue Collar Hero, Leader

Rod Oden coached Brandon Graham at Detroit's Crockett High and was in the hotel suite with Graham's family last night when the Eagles made their surprise selection of the Michigan defensive end, after trading up to nab the 13th overall pick.

"Brandon's a kid who's going to give his all every day. He's going to come to work," Oden said this afternoon, as Graham flew to Philadelphia for a 4 p.m. news conference at NovaCare. Oden was answering a question about why Eagles fans should like this pick. "He prepares so well, practices, meetings. They're going to love that 'blue collar' about him. He's going to be there, in the community and on the field."

Graham was often projected in the draft as a 3-4 linebacker, but Oden said he only played linebacker his senior year in high school, out of need; he was a 4-3 defensive end his whole career at Michigan, and Oden said he should transition seamlessly to the pros.

"He can fit any system ...he won't skip a beat," Oden said. "He's truly an athlete."

Crockett is an inner-city school but an academic-oriented one that students have to apply to attend, Oden said. He said Graham did very well in the classroom at Crockett and at Michigan and is "squeaky clean."

"I can't recall a single practice he missed in four years," Oden said. He said by Graham's senior year, Oden knew if he had some sort of administrative task to attend to just before practice, he knew Graham would get the team lined up and start the workout for him.

"He always believed you don't have to have a coach on the field to have practice," Oden said. "On and off the field, guys wanted to follow Brandon." 


:Later today, the Eagles turn their attention to the second round, where they choose 37th and 55th overall. To read our earlier post on how the team might address its needs in the secondary, click here.