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Philadelphia Eagles Select DE Derek Barnett in the First Round

derek barnett prospects

With the 14 pick of the first round of the 2017 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected defensive end Derek Barnett. He’s a good pass rusher that will immediately help the Eagles defensive line improve in this upcoming season. He has all of the skills that a player would need to be able to be a wrecking force for many years in the NFL.

Barnett, from the University of Tennessee, broke Reggie White’s sack record, something that obviously shows that he has massive talent. Barnett, in three seasons at Tennessee, compiled 32 sacks and 52 tackles for loss (according to www.sports-reference.com). He clearly has shown the ability to be a dominant pass rusher in college, but can he transition to the NFL game?

Barnett uses an assortment of pass rushing moves to get to the quarterback, including using his strong hands to rip past the offensive tackle and a good closing burst to get to the quarterback and make the sack. In addition, Barnett has a great burst at the beginning of the play that he is able to use to get past the offensive line. When looking at Barnett’s college tape and his play style, it is easy to make the comparison to Terrell Suggs.

Barnett, standing at 6’3 and 259 lbs., has a very similar body to the 6’3 and 260 lbs Suggs. They both also play with a similar style, one that involves getting quickly off the line of scrimmage and using strong, quick hands to get to the passer.

In addition, Barnett also fits perfectly into defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 scheme. Barnett played the 4-3, wide nine scheme at Tennessee, and he quickly proved that he can excel in that system. This may have been part of the reason that Philadelphia chose Barnett over some of the other players on the board.

The Eagles, by taking Barnett at pick 14, passed on some other players that would have also helped the team. Linebacker Reuben Foster, from Alabama, has the makings of a dominant, aggressive middle linebacker. However, he fell all the way to the San Fransisco 49ers (via trade) at pick 31. Foster must have fallen for a reason, may it be his shoulder injuries or his recent failing of a drug test, either way, the Eagles chose defensive end Derek Barnett over Foster.

Another player that the Eagles passed on was defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, who eventually was picked by the Washington Redskins at pick 17. Allen, who many ranked as a top five prospect in this draft class, surprisingly fell all the way to pick 17, something that not very many people expected to happen. The Redskins made a good pick at 17, Allen will definitely help their team improve along the defensive line. For the Eagles, Allen’s recent shoulder injury combined with a lack of scheme fit in Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 defense, might have resulted in Philadelphia not wanting to take Allen.

There was an assortment of other players that the Eagles could have taken. Cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Gareon Conley, running back Dalvin Cook, and tight end OJ Howard all were still there at pick 14. However, the Eagles passed on all of them and went for someone who they thought could be an elite pass rusher for the future.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock had a good opinion on the Eagles picking Derek Barnett:

“I love the energy. I love the toughness. People either loved or they didn’t like him because he didn’t have explosive measurables in the combine. But his tape is too good and I think the city of Philadelphia is going to love him.”

Many Eagles fans had a mixed reaction to the pick, but overall the Eagles made a great choice in picking the defensive end from Tennessee. Barnett has the college stats, the scheme fit and the necessary skills and abilities to become a very effective pass rusher in the NFL. With this pick, Philadelphia vaulted up their pass rush, and a defensive line composed of Barnett, Timmy Jernigan, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham would definitely be a defensive line to be reckoned with.

Overall Grade: A-

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