Brandon Graham has seen them come and go in his dozen years with the Eagles.
From long-forgotten draft picks (anybody heard from Jeff Owens lately?) to solid pros like Bennie Logan and Beau Allen to key Super Bowl contributors like Vinny Curry and Derek Barnett.
At this point, B.G. can look at a rookie and have a pretty good idea early on whether or not he can play.
He’s as excited as he’s ever been.
“Man, them boys look goooood,” Graham said the way only he can. “Man, I gotta stay on my game because these boys out here looking goooood. Usually you see rookies coming in, ‘OK, I see where they’ve got to learn, I see where they’ve got to work.’ But these guys? I mean they look like they’ve been here a couple years already.”
Although they’re calling Patrick Johnson a linebacker, the Eagles essentially drafted four defensive linemen: Defensive tackles Milton Williams in the third round and Marlon Tuipulotu in the sixth and edge rushers Tarron Jackson in the sixth round and Johnson in the seventh.
It’s the first time they’ve drafted four d-linemen since 2010, when they took Graham in the first round, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim in the third and then Ricky Sapp and Owens in the later rounds.
After a month of virtual meetings and a week of scaled-down Phase 2 practices, Graham had a hard time containing his praise for this year’s rookie class.
“Just how they move, how they built, some of these guys, I’m like, ‘Hooooooo, this boy built like me, like already swole, moving around.’ I love how they’re changing directions, the way they’re putting their feet in the ground, the way they’re running to the ball. I’m just like, 'They got me on my toes,' like, ‘Hey man, let me go ahead and make sure I’m looking good, too.’
“And that’s what I love. I mean it just brings the beast out of you. … And I want to do all I can for this organization, and they’re the future. I’ve been the guy. I’ve been the young guy who was the future, and now it’s my turn to start passing that torch as we go and just try to help.
“I still got a lot I can do, but I know I’m not going to be here long. I just try to let them know it’s going to take every day and it’s going to take all of us. And we’ve all gotta not have our own agenda, we’ve gotta all try to get each other better and get each other better as a unit and that’s what I’m trying to instill in these guys. I love what I’m feeling already with the d-line and I just love that these guys came in ready to learn and that’s what you see. They came in not trying to know it all. They just want to work.”
Graham is 33, Ryan Kerrigan is 32, Fletcher Cox is 30 and Javon Hargrave 28.
The rest of this d-line is young. Even Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat are only 24.
The Eagles have almost always had great defensive lines, and Graham believes this group is well on its way to building on that tradition.
“I can see the future is bright, definitely, with those guys,” said Graham, a 1st-time Pro Bowler last year. “Just got to stay healthy. For me, hooooooo, I’ve got to pick my game up, and that’s what I love. Just that competition, man. I see these boys, they hungry, and that’s all you can ask for from a player coming in. Just hunger, and I can see it.”
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