Every year we track the candidates for our "Na Brown award," which we give to the unheralded player coming into camp that manages to steal the headlines. Our early leader BTW, is WR Damaris Johnson.
But what about everyone else? Every year there's a veteran or two who shows up "in the best shape of his life" and manages to build excitement for his upcoming season. How can we quantify those guys? To do so, I'm introducing the "buzzmeter." We'll review this during and after each OTA this offseason to track which vets are getting the most buzz.
Coming out of these first OTAs, the "buzziest" player could not have been more obvious. Every coach and every defender has the same name on their lips, Brandon Graham.
Graham caught everyone's eyes this year when he showed up to camp having shed 20 pounds while also noticeably bulking up the muscle. In fact, he's now benching 465 pounds and squatting 405. Jim Washburn says he hears daily about Graham's feats in the weight room and says that attitude wise, "he's a totally different guy."
Cullen Jenkins spoke to Tim McManus and said of Graham's weight room freakishness, "They need to get him some relief or something, give him a hug. He’s a little too intense up in there."
Darryl Tapp says he looks like the player that had everyone excited prior to his rookie year.
"He looks like the Brandon that first came in here," Tapp said. "Brandon probably had the greatest training camp for a rookie that I've ever seen in my life. That first year he came in on fire, killing everybody in one-on-ones, giving great effort. It seems like this past offseason, when we had that time alone to ourselves, he got in a quiet closet and found himself in my opinion."
Graham's comments only back up all the descriptions of him. Earlier this offseason, he now famously rreferred to himself as a "bust" and seems to be using the label as his motivating factor.
Graham's redemption story is teed up and begging to written. He was a highly touted first round pick who got off to a promising start only to see his rookie campaign shortened by injury. He couldn't really shake that injury in his second year, got depressed over it and gained weight. Meanwhile, the guy at his same position taken soon after him by the Eagles' biggest rival becomes a star. The next offseason he gets healthy, toss in a rocky style training montage and you've got yourselves a classic sports movie redemption story.
It's all ready to be written. All he's got to do is complete it. The pads aren't on yet, the games aren't here and there's still a ways to go, but so far the buzzmeter on Brandon Graham is off the charts.
"It's going to be a great year to show the organization what I can do," says Graham. "I want to be part of this organization and hopefully play my whole career here.