Eagles’ Derek Barnett named a breakout candidate by NFL writer
A lot is expected of Derek Barnett and not just by Philadelphia Eagles fans.
Imagine being the 14th pick of any NFL Draft. 99 percent of the people on the planet will never know what it feels like. We just know there has to be some pressure involved. Even with that being said, the 2017 draft class featured a few prospects that have the potential of becoming some of the brightest young stars in the league. Look no further than the Philadelphia Eagles‘ Derek Barnett.
In his first season in Philly, he produced 21 combined tackles, five sacks, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries during the regular season. Then, though his numbers may not reflect it, he paid huge dividends in the playoffs.
If he never did anything else for ‘The Birds’, no one will ever forget him stripping the football from Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum when the game was still a long way from being decided, nor will they forget him recovering the fumble after teammate Brandon Graham stripped New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady of the football in Super Bowl LII.
Pressure will only continue to grow in 2018.
Remember what we said about pressure? As if being the 14th-overall pick in 2017’s draft wasn’t enough of a big deal, Barnett is the Tennessee Volunteers‘ all-time leader in sacks. In other words, he’s the sole owner of a record that used to belong to, arguably, the greatest defensive player in the history of professional football, former Eagles defensive end Reggie White.
See what we mean?
Related Story: Eagles are in a good spot for 2019’s NFL Draft
Another NFL writer shows some love.
Recently, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein released a story on five players drafted in the first round of 2017’s draft that he believes will have breakout seasons in year two. Zierlein mentions Solomon Thomas of the San Francisco 49ers and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. Then there’s the Oakland Raiders‘ Gareon Conley, David Njoku of the Cleveland Browns, and, you guessed it, Derek Barnett of the World Champion Eagles.
Here’s some of what Zierlein had to say:
"The 14th overall pick in 2017 got out of the gates with a solid rookie season… Barnett played in just 41.6 percent of the defensive snaps, but with the Eagles releasing Vinny Curry this offseason, he should see a lot more playing time in 2018… Barnett is more of a technician than speed rusher off the edge, so he ran into much more traffic than he was used to as he transitioned to battling NFL offensive tackles. (He) has quick, strong hands and finds efficient paths to the quarterback. His season as an understudy likely gave him the experience he needed to help convert a higher percentage of his rushes into hurries and sacks."
None of that sounds much different than what a lot of Eagles fans already know and have been saying. Big things are expected. If this young defensive end can answer the call, watch out.