With 10 picks in their holster, the Eagles were widely expected to pull the trigger on a first-round trade to move up and pick a player they targeted. It turns out they did just that, although it might not have been the player everyone was expecting. Safeties Earl Thomas and Eric Berry as well as defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Derrick Morgan were all mentioned as possibilities, but it turns out the apple of the Eagles' eye was defensive end Brandon Graham from Michigan.
To acquire Graham, the Eagles moved up from 24th overall to the 13th pick by sending their two third-round picks (70th and 87th overall) to the Denver Broncos to take a player who was ultra-productive in college and has the skillset that Andy Reid looks for in a player.
"The thing we like to have 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, and (Juqua Parker) and (Victor) Abiamiri, it's a great combination of guys right there. Really, we went into this off-season wanting to better ourselves on the defensive line and we think that this helps us out and the thing I know with a good defensive line is it makes everyone around them better. So when you have a defensive line that's getting after it, all of a sudden the corners look a little better and the safeties look a little better and the linebackers look a little better. That's why we made this move."
The Eagles have revamped their defensive line this off-season, ridding themselves of Chris Clemons, Darren Howard and Jason Babin, while adding acquiring Tapp in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. With the selection of Graham, the Eagles hope to not only add a player with a bright future, but someone who will make their Pro-Bowl defensive end even better.
"If you have two good defensive ends, it's hard to double both of them," Reid said. "Trent gets chipped and doubled and everything else and he's seen it all."
In fact, Reid sees a lot of Cole in Graham.
"I haven't been around a lot of players that played harder than Trent Cole," Reid said. "That's the way (Graham) played at that level, at the college level. We'll see what he does here."
Reid made it clear that the Eagles had been targeting Graham all along, and they felt the need to move to No. 13 because they feared someone else might snatch up the Wolverine. They may have been right, as two of the next three picks following the Graham selection, including a pick by the division-rival Giants, were defensive ends.
"As long as we felt that we could get to where we could grab him," Reid said, when asked if he expected to move up. "That area right in there was a sticky area. What you know is the good defensive ends, the good secondary players, the good offensive tackles, those guys normally go fairly early in the draft. So you saw it."
But the bottom line for the Eagles on this night is the addition of a player who Reid said not only fits a need, but was the best player on their board.
"I put a lot of value in guys who play relentless football and that have the character that you want," Reid said. "So I think he kind of filled all those spots. He had, I also like defensive linemen that do a good job of playing and making plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage and there weren't a lot of them better in college football than this kid."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 10:04 p.m., April 22