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May 25, 2017

Eagles rookie DE Derek Barnett trying to widen his pass rush repertoire

Eagles NFL

In his three years at Tennessee, Philadelphia Eagles first round pick Derek Barnett was an extremely productive player, collecting 32 sacks in three season. By far, his most effective pass rush move was the dip and rip, as Barnett displayed incredible ability to get low while bending around the edge at top speed against offensive tackles.

One of the (fair) criticisms of Barnett, however, is that he did not employ a devastating counter move against linemen who overplayed his highly effective outside rush.

An Eagles fan by the name of Michael Kist put together an ongoing thread of Barnett clips in chronological order, designed to show his progression from freshman year to junior year, good and bad. Just click on the Twitter link below, and scroll for what has to be about 100 Barnett clips (I didn't count them). It sounds like a lot, but you'll find that you can get through them pretty quickly.

In my view, there's a lot more good than bad, however, a recurring theme is the lack of a go-to inside counter move. For example, when Barnett tried inside spin moves in college, they were often ugly:

However, in the first practice of the offseason, Barnett flashed a nice spin move working at the RDE spot against Lane Johnson (playing at LT in place of the absent Jason Peters) that got him an open lane to the quarterback. It was far better move than the examples shown above, against a far better player.

"I have been trying to improve (my inside moves)," Barnett said after the practice. "With the spin, I’ve been trying to be more patient with it. In college, I was too antsy, and trying to do it too early. I have to make sure I’m more patient with it, selling my up-field move better before I spin. Lane did a good job staying square, so I really have to try to wait until the last minute.

"In the league, tackles will stay square. In college, they’ll turn quickly because they knew I was a speed guy up the field. In the NFL, they’re going to stay square until the last minute, so I’m just trying to set my moves up and take whatever they give me."

At a minimum, it's encouraging that Barnett knows and acknowledges he needs an improved pass rush repertoire, and he has continued to work at getting better in that area on his own while also going through a busy pre-draft process.

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