After months of waiting, the moment has finally passed. With the 14th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected..Derek Barnett, defensive end out of Tennessee University. The pick itself was expected to be met with a vicious roar from the Philadelphia crowd..but instead, a deafening silence came over the Draft Theater like a wave. Why? Well, here are five takeaways from the newest Eagle to the nest.
History repeats itself:
In the City that Reggie White helped build the reputation for, the man who most recently smashed his sack records at Tennessee will now put on that same jersey. Barnett was a sack machine at Tennessee, recording 32 in just three seasons. 19 of those came against SEC opponents and his dominant 6’3, 259 lbs, frame only adds to the explosiveness that he could create at the next level. The pick is only fitting..and certainly bolsters the pass rush in a way that few were expecting.
It’s all about production:
The Eagles needed to add some blistering speed on the outside to help support Brandon Graham and enable Fletcher Cox to feast as he did in the latter stages of the 2016 season. Barnett tore through SEC O-Lines on a regular basis. 18 tackles for a loss in 2015 sounds impressive..but ranking sixth in FBS with 12 sacks just raises more eyebrows. Not only is he impressive against the run, but he’s a renowned “sack artist”…giving the Eagles some much needed consistency opposite Brandon Graham.
Is Curry on notice?
This move cements one thing. The Eagles are well aware that Vinny Curry didn’t live up to the hype in 2016. After signing a five-year deal, Curry posted a disappointing 26 tackles and 2.5 sacks..numbers that don’t exactly excite. Barnett’s presence alone will add a lot of fuel to a fire that was already beginning to light..and if he can live up to even a fraction of the potential that many believe him to have, Curry will need a HUGE year to secure his future.
The only downside to this move..and probably the reason why the Theater fell so quiet after the announcement, was the amount of talent left on the board at the time. Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen, Marlon Humphrey, and Dalvin Cook were just some of the names left on the board when the Eagles selected Barnett. That’s not to say that Barnett wasn’t the smart decision..but the names aforementioned falling to the Eagles was regarded by many as beyond unrealistic. There is a reason those names fell this far into the first round and it’s something the Eagles are probably more than aware of, but there was such a sense of excitement in the seconds leading up to the pick..that it almost felt underwhelming. However, if the situation had been different and those players had been taken, I’m sure the reaction would have been different.
Playing it smart:
Barnett fits a mold in Philly. A ruthless defensive end who the Eagles have been incredibly high on for quite some time, the pick was simple. It fills a direct need and gives the Birds an incredibly tenacious pass rush:
DE: Brandon Graham
DT: Fletcher Cox
DT: Timmy Jernigan
DE: Derek Barnett
The front four look poised to wreak havoc this year in the NFC East and that is simply all fans could ask for. There’s an insanely deep cornerback class that has not yet been tapped into and the Birds have been able to not just fill a position of need, but create one of astounding strength.
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports