Philly’s Ibraheim Campbell on Being Drafted by the Browns

Campbell, a Chestnut Hill Academy graduate who played four years at Northwestern, was taken 115th overall in the NFL Draft by Cleveland.

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Ibraheim Campbell grew up in Germantown, went to Chestnut Hill Academy and still has a huge family in the area. And in the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, Campbell heard the rumblings that the Eagles — whose secondary struggled last season — might be interested in drafting the prospect out of Northwestern who looked good at the Senior Bowl. But he said he never really saw himself getting drafted by his hometown team: “I didn’t think they were all that interested.”

In contrast, he had several visits with the Cleveland Browns, the team that took him in the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft. He met with them three times at the Senior Bowl and twice at the NFL Combine, an event where the only physical activity he did was bench press due to a nagging hamstring injury.

“It was kind of unique to meet with a team more than once or twice between those two events,” he says Wednesday over lunch at Old City’s Mac’s Tavern. “I sort of got an idea that they were a little more interested in me than other teams. It was a little bit of a hint.” He pauses and smiles. “Then obviously the Browns drafting me was a pretty big hint.”

Though he wasn’t able to work out at the combine, Campbell says he had one big thing going for him during the many interviews he went through that weekend: His Northwestern education. “For the most part they just want to get a glimpse of the kind of person you are, since they already had the film,” he explains. “I think going into a lot of interviews they kind of expected me to be the smart athlete, so it was almost a matter of maintaining that during the conversation more than anything.” He later worked out for about 15 teams during his pro day, then met with a few others privately. He visited with the Colts.

Campbell says the weekend of the NFL Draft was mostly “just trying to find distractions.” He worked out, he went out to eat with his family and saw a movie. Early on day three of the draft, as he walked into his house he received a phone call saying the Cleveland Browns were making him the 115th pick of the draft.

Despite being more than 200 pounds, Campbell is known for his quickness and ability to strip the ball. In a game against Notre Dame last season, Campbell stripped the ball with 1:28 remaining to set up a game-tying field goal. The Wildcats won in overtime. (Coincidentally, Mac’s Tavern, is a bar where Notre Dame fans gather to watch the Fighting Irish. Whoops.)

Campbell says nothing’s really changed since he was drafted, but he’s excited — like anyone leaving college — to move on to the next chapter of his life. “It’s just a job now,” he says of football. “Not that it wasn’t in college. It’s all you have to worry about. The ability to focus everything on football is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. … It’s really exciting to be part of such a great defense with the Browns.” Cleveland ranked eighth in pass defense last season, while Football Outsiders graded the Browns’ pass D second-best in the league.

He admits he didn’t know much about Cleveland before being picked by the Browns. “I knew they had some pretty good fans, similar to Philadelphia in that they’re extremely loyal,” he says. He’ll probably learn quickly: Rookie minicamp starts this Friday.

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