Probably the best player at the Senior Bowl practices and in the game, Michigan DE/OLB Brandon Graham was a force on the field. Graham won the Senior Bowl MVP award after recording two sacks and a forced fumble in the dominate win for the North team. I had a chance to talk to Brandon a few times during the week. Here’s the first transcript of our first conversation.
Spencer: What’s your Senior Bowl experience been like so far?
Graham: The tempo is fast and I expected it. That’s all I’ve been practicing for. I feel like I did good today. I was kind of sad because one of my boys, O’Brien Schofield, tore his knee up today. So he won’t be participating no more. I talked to him for a minute and told him that I’m gonna keep him in my prayers and I’ll keep going for him. Stuff happens for a reason, so you just have to keep fighting.
Spencer: Did you plan all along to play in the Senior Bowl if you were invited, or was it something you had to really think about?
Graham: No, it’s always an honor to get invited somewhere. Especially for what you’re doing. It’s like an accomplishment and a privilege, like they say and I appreciate it.
Spencer: What are you trying to show scouts while you’re here?
Graham: Just trying to show that my motor’s always going. I love football and I just wanna make plays and sack the quarterback.
Spencer: You’ve matched up against some pretty good offensive lineman out here. Who has given you the toughest time in practice?
Graham: Uh, I forgot his name…from UMass.
Graham: Yeah, Ducasse. I’ve only seen him in team drills, but not in one on one. I did see the one from Virginia Tech (Wang).
Spencer: What about on your side of the ball. Who’s impressed you so far?
Graham: Jared Odrick. That boy’s a good player and he’s got a motor, too. He always keeps going and I can’t wait to see him in the game.
Spencer: Where do you think you fit in best in the NFL? Do you think you’re a 3-4 outside linebacker or do you feel confident you can play 4-3 defensive end at the next level?
Graham: I don’t really wanna say because I’m willing to do 4-3, 3-4, it doesn’t matter. I like linebacker a lot. I’ll say it like that. But I’ll play wherever the coaches want me to play.
Spencer: Do you feel pretty comfortable dropping into coverage?
Graham: Oh yeah. I feel real good. I’ve been working on my hips, working on my drops every day in practice for Michigan. It’s almost the same but it’s a little different. With a little coaching from NFL guys, I believe I’ll get it done.
Spencer: Is there a difference working with an NFL coaching staff than with the staff at Michigan?
Graham: It’s almost the same. Since they’re teaching all basic kind of stuff, it’s kind of the same. But the intensity is there, the way they do it in practice, But they’re NFL guys, so of course they’re better than college guys. But at the same time, I believe it’s all the same thing so you just have to buy into it.
Spencer: Did you grow up with a favorite NFL player?
Graham: Ray Lewis. That’s my guy. I try to just go hard like him. He works out so hard from everybody I hear. I just see him out there and it shows out there on the field. That’s what I wanted to be. I wanna show how hard I put in to it, how much hard work I put into it, so I just appreciate this opportunity.
Spencer: What would it be like to get drafted by the Ravens and play next to your childhood idol?
Graham: Hey, they would love Brandon Graham. I would bring the passion for the game and you’d just know that you have 100% coming.
Spencer: What would it be like for you having Ray Lewis behind you and Terrell Suggs on the other side?
Graham: That’d be nice right there. That’s scary. First off, not only is Ray Lewis a great player, he’s a mentor. He’d teach me a whole lot. That’d be a good fit, just on the football stand point. I’ve never met him as a person but I keep hearing good things about him.
Spencer: What are you looking forward to the most throughout the rest of the draft process?
Graham: I’m looking forward to tomorrow and then the Senior Bowl. Then running in the 4.5s. I’m trying and I’m working. I’m excited because I like when people doubt me. That’s just a challegenge and I like challenges and I’m gonna try to fulfill it. And if I don’t, then I gave it my all and that’s all I can say.
Spencer: One thing we can’t doubt is your ability to get to the quarterback. What goes through your head as you come around the corner and have the QB in your sights?
Graham: Hey, get out of my way. You better get out of my way because I’m coming.
Spencer: Thanks a lot for your time, Brandon.
Graham: No problem!