Can Derek Barnett finally take a big step forward?
The Eagles will ask Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox to again take up residency at the defensive line’s interior. Over the past two drafts, they’ve added Milton Williams, Marlon Tuipulotu, and Jordan Davis to the rotation.
They feature Josh Sweat on the outside along with Brandon Graham. The latter missed most of last season with an injury, but he’s back and playing like he’s been drinking from the fountain of youth. Derek Barnett isn’t going to be asked to do too much, and frankly, he should be able to relax and play like he isn’t under any pressure because he isn’t.
All he has to do is give the defense quality snaps whenever his number is called in the rotation. In all honesty, that shouldn’t be an issue because when you look at the number of stars he has playing around him, there’s no reason to expect he won’t see his share of opportunities or that he shouldn’t be able to produce some fireworks.
It hasn’t always been pretty. It’s been downright ugly sometimes, but this could be the year Number 96 blossoms into the player the Eagles thought they were getting when they drafted him in 2017.