Why have big moments from “96” on this Philadelphia Eagles team been few and far between?
Talent? Barnett has that. Pedigree? Barnett has that too. No one earns an All-SEC Freshman Team nod, a First-team All-SEC nod, and a Consensus All-American nod because they’re a slouch. We’re talking about the best conference in all of college football. Talent is the reason that Barnett was a top-15 pick in 2017’s draft. Was he the right choice though? That remains to be seen, but here’s what we can say.
Much of the Eagles fan base was praying for a cornerback or a wide receiver at 15. During the first three rounds, here’s a list of some of the cornerbacks that were taken: Marshon Lattimore (who was already off of the board), Marlon Humphrey, Tre’Davious White, and Shaquill Griffin. All three of those guys made the Pro Bowl. Philly took Sidney Jones, a guy who tore his Achilles before the draft. How many of you would trade Barnett for Griffin right now? It’s hard not to look at what guys are doing on other teams and not think about the fact that Barnett has never been voted to a Pro Bowl.
Maybe Barnett is a late-bloomer. That argument can be used. Brandon Graham was a late-bloomer and a former first-round selection that wound up being one of the best players in Eagles history.
Here’s the thing though. Teams don’t expect for top-15 picks to be “projects”, and the Eagles didn’t send Chris Long to early retirement or ship Michael Bennett off a year early to watch Barnett struggle. Sure, Barnett has his own highlight reel, but his best moments are few and far between. Perhaps that’s what frustrates you about Derek Barnett. You know he can do the job. He just hasn’t, at least not with any consistency.
There’s something else that’s at play here though. Outside of B.G., we aren’t sure that we like any of the Eagles defensive ends. Maybe we should stop looking at Shareef Miller, Josh Sweat, and Barnett skeptically and ask another question. Why aren’t these Eagles coaches coaching these guys up? Maybe we need to throw some blame in Phillip Daniels or Nathan Ollie’s direction. Maybe this is more about what they didn’t do. Hopefully, Philly’s defensive line and Nathan Ollie will be more electric under Matt Burke in 2020