Aug 042010

August 4 Philadelphia Inquirer

Brandon Graham can buy a couple of beach houses in Malibu with his new contract.

The Eagles’ top draft pick, who signed a five-year deal on Thursday, will make $22 million in base salary with just under $14 million guaranteed, according to league sources.

Graham, the first defensive end chosen with the 13th overall selection, said that he wants to wait until his second contract, however, before he buys his dream home.

“I rented a house in Malibu just before I came here and I was just like, ‘This is unreal,’ ” Graham said Tuesday. “But I’m focused on football right now and just trying to save. That’s what they taught me at the rookie symposium.”

The 22-year-old Graham appears to have it all and he has yet to play a down in the NFL. He’s got the big contract, early praise from his coaches and already the respect of his veteran teammates.

For most of training camp, tackle Winston Justice has had the task of blocking the rookie with the endless motor. Their battles thus far have been highlight reels. Justice was asked to compare Graham to a player and delivered high praise.

“He’s kind of a shorter [Dwight] Freeney maybe,” said Justice, referring to the all-pro Colts defensive end. “You’re going to quote that and then it will make his head really big now. You don’t need to make his head big.”

If there’s a first-round pick not in jeopardy of getting too big for his britches, it’s Graham. At least it seems that way. He walks around with a constant smile, is excessively accommodating to fans, and has made it a point to shake the hand of every media member when he exits the locker room after practice.

And then there’s the fact that he’s not especially big, in relative terms.

“Hearing [the compliments] is good,” Graham said. “But I’m always thinking in the back of my mind, ‘You’re undersized. Remember that.’ ”

Graham is listed at 6-foot-2, 268 pounds, but is probably an inch or two shorter. It’s not his size, though, that should give offensive linemen fits and could project him as the Eagles’ starting left defensive end earlier than first thought.”

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