Okay, admittedly I wasn’t screaming or jumping for joy when the Eagles selected defensive end Derek Barnett out of Tennessee with the 14th pick last night. Names like Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen, OJ Howard, Tre’Davious White and Dalvin Cook were all on the board and selecting a pass rusher wasn’t exactly something we felt the Eagles needed to attack right away.
Now, as I’m drinking my coffee and read up on analysts’ grades on the Eagles pick, I am BEYOND excited. I recalled last night that when the Giants won their 2 Super Bowls in 2007 and 2011, they won with a relentless pass rush. They got to Tom Brady in both of those games, rattled his cage and made a few plays on offense that propelled them for the ultimate prize. I have to think the Eagles are looking to do the same thing. The Eagles projected starters on the defensive line will be Barnett, Timmy Jernigan, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. Not bad at all, especially in a division where the Cowboys and Redskins have good offensive lines, and getting to their quarterbacks is extremely instrumental to success.
Let’s look at Barnett. First off, he fits the “Wide Nine” defensive philosophy of Jim Schwartz beautifully. He can rush the passer, stand up and even play in coverage and plays extremely well against the run (watch out Zeke Elliot) This is an excerpt on his scouting report via NFL.com
“Championship hand fighter on college level. Hands are strong, fast, efficient and lethal. Punch-and-discard winner. As rusher, swats are well-timed discarding tackle’s punch attempt. Attacks the edge with good forward lean and works hands and feet in harmony on road to the quarterback. Uses jab steps and lateral movement to search for the edge of the blocker. Has leverage and strength to play right through redirects. Elite production on par with former Vol and Hall of Famer Reggie White against run and as sack artist. Not content to just set the edge — wants to make the play.”
Let that all sink in. It was also reported that GM Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas coveted Barnett from the beginning. It’s nice to see Howie is playing well with others, especially a polarizing figure like Douglas who was responsible for building up the Ravens when they made their Super Bowl run in 2011.
It’s not the “sexy” pick, but when you look at Barnett and the talent he is surrounded by, the Eagles have the chance to create a relentless pass rush which takes a lot of pressure off of the secondary (which the Eagles can still add premier talent to in day 2 and 3 of the draft) The common theme in Philadelphia over the last few years has been “trust the process” so before we crucify the Eagles for this, let’s remember to give the kid a chance, because I’m damn sure no one will be complaining if Derek Barnett buries Dak Prescott a few times a game for the next decade.
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