Eagles rookie Derek Barnett flashes explosiveness in NFL debut

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The Philadelphia Eagles kicked off their 2017 campaign with a preseason matchup against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night. While the outcomes of these games don’t matter, they are the first taste of real NFL action for the league’s rookies. One such rookie was the Eagles’ first round pick, Derek Barnett, who looked every bit of the savvy veteran in his NFL debut.

Barnett played through the third quarter of Thursday night’s game and made his presence felt. The Eagles first round pick finished the night with two sacks, two quarterback hits and recorded six tackles. Barnett will also be making special guest appearances in Green Bay quarterback Joe Callahan’s nightmares as the 21-year-old was frequently in his face.

The rookie out of Tennessee has been noted as staying after training camp sessions this summer with future Hall of Fame tackle Jason Peters to perfect his pass rush moves. Those extra reps have paid off and Barnett put on a variety of moves to get pressure on the quarterback. From bull rushes to spin moves and hesitations, Barnett had his way with his opposing tackle.

On Barnett’s first NFL sack he took away left tackle Jason Spriggs’ hands to get around him. Barnett engaged Spriggs and threw the tackle’s arms to his right and sped around the left. Barnett wrapped up quarterback Brett Hundley from behind for a loss of eight yards.

In the Eagles first released depth chart, Barnett was listed as the backup defensive end to Vinny Curry. Curry, who has disappointed after a signing a 5-year, $47.25 million salary last February, will need to step his game up if he hopes to continue as the Eagles starting defensive end opposite Brandon Graham. Curry and Barnett will have three more preseason games to battle it out but after Barnett’s debut, he may have the upper hand in the race. The Eagles have a lot invested in each of the defenders and each will see their fair share of snaps no matter what the next three preseason games hold.

The Eagles did a lot to bolster the defensive line after a 35-sack 2016 campaign that saw the pass rush disappear after week three. After Barnett’s first career sack, another new addition, Chris Long, got good pressure on the quarterback but failed to bring him to the ground.

With the additions of Barnett, Long and Tim Jernigan, the Eagles put a lot of eggs in their defensive line basket in hopes to revert to their pass rush they showed in the three game win streak to open the 2016 season.

Barnett impressed in his NFL debut and did just about everything you could ask of a rookie in his first NFL action. We will see plenty of the rookie over the next three weeks as he tries to cement his position on the Eagles defensive line. If he plays anything like he did on Thursday night, we are in for quite a rookie season from our first round pick.

Follow Brenden on Twitter @brendenp2011.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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