Brandon Graham: Interview With the Philadelphia Eagles Rookie Defensive End

Mike BurkeCorrespondent IApril 6, 2017

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham is teaming up with zero calorie Pepsi MAX and Acme to celebrate the new Pepsi MAX NFL Rookie cans. Graham joins 13 other NFL rookies from across the league who will be featured on their own Pepsi MAX can. The NFL Rookie edition of Pepsi MAX will be available for a limited time at participating retailers.

NFL Rookie Pepsi MAX cans will feature:
-  C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
-  Brandon LaFell, Carolina  Panthers
-  Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals
-  Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns
-  Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys
-  Jahvid Best, Detroit Lions
-  Tyson Alualu, Jacksonville Jaguars
-  Jared Odrick, Miami Dolphins
-  Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings
-  Jason Pierre-Paul, NY Giants
-  Rolando McClain, Oakland Raiders
-  Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles
-  Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
-  Mardy Gilyard, St. Louis Rams

The Pepsi MAX Rookie can series is part of the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week/Year program, which allows fans to vote each week and at the end of the season for the best rookie in the league at or As the official soft drink of the NFL and as part of the program, Pepsi MAX is not only honoring 14 different NFL rookies on the cans, but is giving fans the chance to win a trip to North Texas to attend Super Bowl XLV and all the festivities leading up to it, where they will announce the 2010 Rookie of the Year.

With Graham being at a local Acme, I was given the opportunity to speak with him about the program and ask him a variety of questions about his first season as an Eagle.  Before I get into the details of our conversation, let me first say that he is truly a great guy.  He didn't just sign cans and send people on their way so he could get to the next one.  Graham had a small conversation with everyone who approached the table and was all laughs and smiles the entire time.  He was very pleasant to talk to and is the perfect type of young player you want in your organization.

When I first started talking to Graham, I asked him to tell me a little bit about the NFL Rookie Pepsi MAX program.  He immediately picked up one of the cans and said, "I never thought I'd have my face on a can of Pepsi."  As he went on to tell us that he was just honored to be one of the selections of the program, it was evident to see his true appreciation of being part of it all.  This was his first appearance, but he said he expects to be out more in the future.

Next, we talked a little bit about his transition from college to the NFL.  He explained that the schemes weren't as hard to pick up on as the speed of the game.

"The speed in the NFL is on another level, and everything happens so quick," said Graham.

I also asked him about the transition from the Big House to the Linc and which venue he thought was a tougher place for opponents to play.

"Both are definitely tough to play in, but the Linc is actually louder because everyone is always screaming," he said. "The fans are very passionate." 

Players have been having trouble hearing one another on the field so he told me that they "try to work on hand signals to deal with the noise of the crowd."

Looking at some of the different formations Graham has been in this year, I asked him if anything was new for him.  Graham told me that he "played both defensive tackle and end at Michigan."  

"The coaches just tried to put me in a position where I could get a one-on-one matchup," Graham added. "From there, it was my responsibility to beat him and make a play." 

When asked what his preference was, Graham said, "I like lining up at end."

If you're unaware, Graham is originally from Detroit.  Coincidentally, that is where he recorded his first career NFL sack, so I asked him how special that was.  

"That was the first time I played at Ford Field since my championship game in high school.  It was great because I had 200 people there watching me, including a lot of my family," said Graham. "There were a lot of people waiting for me after the game, and it was really a great experience."

With the quarterback topic being so popular in Philadelphia, I asked Graham to speak a little bit on the topic.

"People call it a problem sometimes, but it's a good problem to have.  Both quarterbacks have different styles of play, but they're both very good.  It really helps us as a defense.  We always have a talented quarterback running the scout team and sometimes we see both of them.  Michael Vick took some snaps the week before the Titans game to give us a Vince Young kind of look."

Although it has gone very quickly, the regular season is halfway complete.  I asked Graham to tell me about some personal goals he has for the second half of the season.  

"I have to stay healthy." 

Outside of health he also said, "I have to give 100 percent whenever I'm out there.  A lot of rookies in my situation don't even get the chance to touch the field.  I have to make the most of my opportunities and do whatever I can to give my team a chance to win.  In the end, it's all about getting wins."

With two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Trent Cole on his team, I asked Graham to tell me what type of influence Cole has had on him.  He first brought up Cole's obsession with hunting and that, "He is so into it, that he makes me want to get out there and do it." 

Getting back to the field, Graham said, "Cole's intensity on the field is incredible, and sometimes I think the coaches want to pull him out because they think he's going to hurt someone.  That's the kind of work ethic I try to duplicate.  He has always been real with me and always makes sure to point me in the right direction when I do something wrong.  He's been a great mentor to have around."

As I mentioned above, Graham always seems to be in a positive mood and never stops smiling.  I asked him how his mentality changes on game day.  He told me he "changes into a business focus.  No one can beat me.  I'll gladly sack the quarterback with a smile on my face."

Since he's always in a good mood, I asked him who he thought was the funniest guy in the locker room.  Without hesitation, he said, "Asante."

Overall, meeting with Graham was a very enjoyable experience.  I'm glad to have a guy like him in the organization, and I'm excited to see how he plays the rest of the season and beyond.