Now entering his seventh NFL season, Brandon Graham has proved to be a veteran leader for this Eagles defense. He's racked up 199 total tackles, 37 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles and is coming off a season in which he set career highs in sacks (6.5) and tackles (63).
As he and his teammates prepare to move back to a 4-3 scheme, it gave Graham the perfect opportunity to reflect on his draft experience. A first-round pick of the Eagles in 2010, he began his career as a defensive end in a 4-3 system and is ready to return to that position in 2016.
On The Draft Day Experience
"Everybody kept saying, 'Man, you're going to be late first, maybe second (round).' For me, my mindset was don't stress because no matter what you can play. No matter where you go, they're going to be happy to have you and I just wanted to get drafted. That was my biggest thing. I just wanted to get drafted.
"When I got selected by the Eagles, the first thing I thought about was the defense they run and I was like, 'Wow. They blitz all the time. This is going to be a good fit.' You start thinking about how you kind of fit from what you've seen, what you've watched on TV and stuff like that. For me, that was my whole thought process. Then, to be able to talk to Coach (Andy) Reid and those guys on the phone, I was kind of nervous, but anxious at the same time to let them know I'm ready to prove to you that you didn't waste a pick on me. I think for me it was more so, trying to prove to them through the phone that I'm ready."
On The Day After He Was Drafted
"It was crazy because as soon as you get drafted, you come in (to the team's facility) the next day. My next day, when I came in Coach Reid had a 15-minute brief meeting about the media here. They had to give me a whole lecture about the media. I was like, 'Wow, this is how the NFL is.' Then I found out this is just how Philly is, but for me, diving right into it felt good because you've been training for so long. Then during the draft process, you get a little break but you're still training. To come here right away, you're ready right away. You've been training for the Combine, so you're kind of small and able to run around a lot. It's more so trying to get on the weightlifting plan and try to get back the strength you lost since you're not hitting every day."
On Veterans He Turned To For Advice
"Jason Peters and Trent Cole. Both of them. They give me advice still to this day even though Cole's not here. He watched me all the time and tells me little things to work on and I look at him too. He tells me good things that I do. He's kind of like that guy when you get frustrated you go to and be like, 'Man, how did you deal with this?' Now it's JP and now I'm kind of like the one guys come to sometimes, like Marcus Smith. If people want to talk, they come talk to me. (Peters and Cole) are like my brothers now. Both of them took me in, introduced me to their families. I've been to their houses, been out with them. We've done a lot of things together. It's like a brotherly bond even though T. Cole is away right now. When he comes into town he always lets us know. It's one of those for-life bonds we'll continue to have even after football."
On Advice That Has Stuck With Him
"What stuck with me was what Coach Reid said when he came in after I got hurt (in 2010). He basically was saying, 'You can't help what happens to you, but you can change the whole situation by how hard you work.'"
Want to meet Brandon Graham and get his autograph? Join us the Eagles Spotlight Forum on April 30 at Lincoln Financial Field for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at life in the NFL, from the perspective of Graham, Jordan Hicks and Chris Maragos.