By Al Thompson
Every year during the NFL Draft, after each pick there is a conference call. The questions are pretty much the same. Did you know the Eagles were going to pick you? How well do you know the history of this franchise? What skill set do you bring to the table?
It is pretty much a snooze fest. But this year, the Eagles not only took a player who is from the Philadelphia area, he actually played every one of his college home games at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Birds, so his interview was a bit more interesting.
To say former Temple linebacker Shaun Bradley was happy to hear his name called as the Eagles’ pick in the sixth round of this year’s draft would be an understatement.
“Man, it was unbelievable,” Bradley said shortly after the draft on video news conference. “It was a totally unbelievable moment. I was in complete shock. I couldn’t even cry at first. I was just stuck staring at the screen, and then all the tears came out and my family was cheering. Oh, man, it was just a great feeling.”
Bradley was voted by his teammates with the coveted single-digit (No. 5) uniform number his senior year.
Wearing a single-digit jersey is considered to be one of the highest honors an Owl can earn. These are awarded to the players deemed by their teammates to be the toughest members of the team.
The 6-foot-1, 235-pounder said he had spoken to the Eagles during the pre-draft process, but did not realize he was on Eagles Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman’s radar.
“I talked to them, I wouldn’t say a lot before the draft, but I talked to them a little bit,” Bradley said. “I didn’t know coming into the draft. I didn’t know prior to the pick that they were going to grab me. I just kind of got the call when they were up to pick, and then talked to Coach (Doug) Pederson and everything like that. So I can’t explain the feeling.”
Whenever the team eventually gets back to practicing at NovaCare and playing games at the Linc, they will have a player who won’t need a tour guide of the stadium.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “I’ve grown to love the Linc and the Philly area in general, even the fans as well. I know all the dips and the crevices in the field. I know everything. I’m going to be ready to go.”
Bradley played running back and defensive back for coach Dan Haussman at Rancocas Valley (New Jersey) High School.
As a senior, he earned first team all-county after rushing for 1,467 yards and 22 touchdowns on 188 carries, He also recorded six catches for 88 yards. On defense, Bradley registered 19 tackles and one interception. He also lettered in basketball and track. Bradley was named Rancocas Valley High Male Athlete of the Year in 2014-15.
The 23-year-old said South Jersey football isn’t appreciated enough at the national level.
“I think we’re underrated,” Bradley said. “We have a lot of great talent out here. It varies. We had [Redskins WR] Kelvin Harmon come out of here. We had a couple players. South Jersey creates a lot of talent. A lot of under-the-radar players, players with a chip on their shoulder coming out and not really noticed, and then doing their thing. It’s a testament to the families, to the coaches and to the work ethic of the players. It says a lot for us.”
Bradley was asked that since he is from the area and follows the Eagles, he is aware the team needs to bolster its linebacker room. And does that raise his hopes of playing as a rookie?
“Yeah, for sure,” Bradley said. “I definitely looked and saw it a lot. When I was in Arizona training, I had — one of my coaches was out there. He was talking about it as well, once they released Nigel Bradham. They were talking about how they need linebackers. I’ve always been on track and on top of everything. But you don’t really think it’s possible until it happens. I just waited my turn and continued to just stay hopeful, and it came true. I’m excited.”
When you play well for a national program, the accolades mount up. In 2019, Bradley was on the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List as well as the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List. In 2018, he was named to the Phil Steele Second Team All-AAC team and was an All-ECAC Honorable Mention. Bradley also accumulated many player-of-the-game nods. … APEX Predator Defensive Player of the Game (Boston College) … #theSTANDARD Player of the Game (Villanova, Buffalo, Tulsa, Navy, Houston, USF) … 2017 – ECAC First Team All-East.
Bradley was asked what part of his game does he think translates best to the NFL.
“I’m ready to learn overall in general and just become a better player overall,” he said. “I relied a lot on my speed and I’m a physical player. I like to tackle. I love contact. I don’t shy away from any of that. I think that’s something that’s going to help me a lot, not being afraid of that, to make that play or run down or whatever. I’m eager to learn and better myself in all aspects of my game. Whatever I need to do to help, I’m ready to do it.”
Bradley grew up in a split house with regard to NFL team loyalty. But now he says there is only one team now in the family home.
“My mom was excited,” he said. “My dad was hyped. My dad is a Giants fan and he put an Eagles jersey on immediately … It’s crazy.” ••
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii