I first want to start by saying this: I am in no way shape or form a scout. I don’t get paid to do any of this. I don’t expect you to hold my opinions on draft prospects to a higher standard than yours or anyone else’s. I’ll never comment or offer my opinion on anything I don’t feel I am educated about. I trust my eyes more than most, but I will never ever be the guy that thinks he is 100% right on a prospect because I’ve watched countless hours on them. The draft is a crapshoot and scouts who get paid a lot of money miss annually on prospects so I don’t expect to be right all the time. Honestly I, and everyone else are wrong more than we are right, which is fine! I simply love talking the draft, it’s one of my favorite times of the year.
The Eagles selected Derek Barnett, the defensive end from Tennessee in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. My initial reaction was anger. To me, with guys like Rebuen Foster, OJ Howard, and Jonathan Allen on the board, Barnett was not the best player available. With how much Howie Roseman preaches that sentiment, I was bothered.
After a couple of hours, I realized a few things. One, like offensive lineman, you can never have enough pass rushers. Two, Derek Barnett is just 20 years old with a ton of upside. The tough thing about evaluating prospects is you want to see them dominate in college with production, but you also want to project how their style of play translates to the NFL. Some players have major success in college and it simply doesn’t translate to the NFL. See Tim Tebow. Derek Barnett had lots of success in college including breaking Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee. Will Barnett’s success continue at the next level? You be the judge.
Let’s take a look at some of Barnett’s success and struggles in college.
The first thing you notice when watching Derek Barnett is his timing of the snap. Barnett is almost always the first player to react to the ball being snapped. Here, he doesn’t get the sack, but it’s crazy Barnett was able to even get close with how fast the ball got out of the quarterback’s hands.
Again, speed. Soon as the ball is snapped, Barnett fires away. This probably stood out to Jim Schwartz who preaches to his DEs to get off the line quickly.
Something else I like about Barnett is he doesn’t just play with his head down. Here he sniffs out the WR screen and gets his hand on the pass. Love this awareness.
Set the edge..
Something Derek Barnett will need to work on is his ability to set the edge. Too many times when watching Barnett you see him lose containment and allow the RB or QB to get outside of him for big runs.
Let’s get back to the good..
Often times you see Barnett win with speed and blowing by. When he sees tackles thinking he’s going speed, he has a nice swim move to win inside. Love this play here.
Hand usage. Good DEs use their hands. Barnett never stops using his hands. Love his bend here, too.
Doesn’t get the sack here, but does draw a holding penalty. Again, you’re seeing the bend and hand usage.
Probably my favorite play from Barnett. Absolutely kills the QB. My goodness.
Derek Barnett is entering a situation similar to to Carson Wentz last year. When drafted, Wentz entered a QB room with Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, and had a strong set of coaches to depend on. Barnett gets to learn from Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Chris Long, with no pressure to start day one. As far as scheme, Jim Schwartz’ wide-9 should benefit Barnett, as well. Barnett’s ability to win off the snap and use his speed, he should be a productive pass rusher on passing downs. If Barnett wants to become a full-time starter, he must improve in the run game.