First-round draft pick Brandon Graham spend the weekend hosting a football camp, giving back to kids and making a difference for them. He has a lot on his plate right now as he prepares for his first Eagles training camp, and we inch closer to Lehigh, it's time to consider Graham and what is ahead for him.
So far, Graham has handled everything the right way. He has listened to the coaches. He has taken the advice of the veteran Eagles on the roster and Graham has shown to be a very quick in his application of what he has been taught. The young man with a mature mind has an idea of what to expect when training camp begins.
"I am really excited to get to camp this year," he said on his way to his weekend camp in California. "It is something that most players usually dread, but I can't wait to get to Lehigh and show my coaches why they picked me. I am always learning and seeking out advice from coaches and other players. I think training camp will give me the opportunity to get ready for the season and give my coaches and teammates a preview of what I am going to do everyday this season. It's important to come out every practice with the same intensity as a game."
Graham is likely to line up as the second-team left defensive end, behind Juqua Parker. That seems like a good intro for the rookie, with more to come. Once the pads go on, we'll learn about his quickness and his tenacity and the way he uses his hands. In the spring, Graham was in the infant stages, learning from Rory Segrest what kind of hand and feet placement he needs. It was a time for the technical introduction to the scheme.
When camp starts, Graham has to survive the mental and physical grind. So since the practices ended, Graham has been on his own preparing for Lehigh.
"Since I got back from Philadelphia, I have been working out every day in Ann Arbor with my strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis. I have been continuing to prepare myself physically like I was in Philly with the Eagles team," he said. "I am in the best condition of my life and have been mentally preparing myself to do well in camp."
Of course, Graham is one of three unsigned Eagles draft picks. And the NFL landscape suggests that signing the top picks is going to come right down to the wire in just about every instance, Graham's included.
Is there a chance that Graham won't get a deal done in time for the first practice on July 27?
"I have a great agent, Joel Segal, to handle my contract negotiations and I trust that he will get the job done with the Eagles front office. I am very confident that my contract will be done by camp," said Graham. "I want to be there day one, so I can get in every minute of preparation for the season, and I am confident that I will be. Even if my contract is not finished right away, I will be at Lehigh with my teammates and coaches day one learning the system and educating myself, until my contract is done and I am able to participate."
All of the business side will take care of itself in time. For now, Graham has to take care of his own business, and that includes working with the kids at his camp and hopefully helping them take the right path in life.
It meant a lot to Graham to work with the children over the weekend.
"As a kid in Detroit, I would always enjoy spending time with older athletes that I could relate to. Camps always helped me to stay confident with my school work because I knew it wasn't only football that was important. I think that I will be able to make a big difference for the kids I speak with at the After School All Stars event in California," he said. "I will be able to tell them about my own experiences growing up and how it is important to work hard no matter what they are doing. I always give my all whether it is in school or on field."
Graham is off to a good start as an Eagle. The next chapter, training camp, is an important one. As we near that magical first day, Graham is making sure he is doing the right things. The goal is to make an immediate impact. The Eagles traded up to draft Graham. They want all of him from day one of camp to make a difference with the defense.