As we get closer and closer to the day rookies report to training camp at Lehigh University, one may start to get more concerned about the fact that our current projected starting free safety Nate Allen (2nd Round, 37th overall) and our first round defensive end Brandon Graham (13th overall) have yet to be signed. I’d like to take this time to share my opinion on the likelihood of these two making it (or not making it) to camp on time.
First off, I believe it is more important for the team that Nate Allen does not miss any time at camp. He is, as I said, our projected starting free safety. It is of the utmost importance that he gets as many reps in as possible. For a secondary that one could say was our weakest link last year, Allen was the biggest addition to the group.The expectations for him are very high, so getting into training camp on the first day should be his (and the Eagles) top priority. If he misses time, and he struggles this season, he will lose his job quickly.
This is not to say that I don’t think it is important for Graham to get signed soon. But I feel defensive end is a position that we currently have enough talent that it will not cause us to struggle without his presence at camp. It is more important for Graham to get to camp for himself, as he still has to earn the starting stop. Sure he is the favorite to start opposite Trent Cole, but if he isn’t around for the reps he will fall behind and someone will take his spot.
I do believe Nate Allen will be signed before training camp starts. The Buccaneer’s recently signed 2nd round draft pick DT Brian Price so this will set a precedent for the other 2nd rounders to base their contracts on. Price was selected two picks before Allen at 35th overall and it seems he will start at DT, so I think Allen’s contract will look similar to his.
Even with the recent signing of Dez Bryant, I don’t think Brandon Graham will be signed before training camp. I’m not much a scout or a draft-pick-contract-signing expert, but I do think Graham and his agent will wait for the Bradford deal to be done like a lot of the other 1st rounders are. Many believe that this deal with Bryant wasn’t as much as he should have gotten, and had a lot to do with the good relationship between his agent and the organization along with wanting to clear his reputation of not showing up on time for stuff.
Graham said a few weeks ago that even if he does not have a deal in place by the time training camp comes that he will still be there for the “learning” stuff. I have my doubts that this will happen. First off, is this even allowed? Is an unsigned draft pick allowed to show up at training camp and do stuff like that? Second off, I really doubt his agent will let him do that. It really takes away any leverage they have if the kid is going to be at camp no matter if they gave him a deal or not.
It’s in the best interest of everyone to get these draft picks signed before camp starts (when isn’t it though?), but if I had to make a prediction I’d say Nate Allen doesn’t miss any camp and Brandon Graham misses a few days.