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August 18, 2017

Derek Barnett will have significant role on Eagles' defense this season

One of the more obvious takeaways from the first two games of the Philadelphia Eagles' preseason is that rookie defensive end Derek Barnett has ability to get to the passer.

That, of course, is the reason the Eagles selected him 14th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. When the Eagles took him, Barnett was a 20-year-old, record-breaking, ultra-productive college player with premium pass rush skills at arguably the most important position on defense, who did his damage in the best conference in the country. He can now add preseason stud to his résumé, after collecting three sacks in two games in limited action.

The two standout moments from Barnett's game Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills happened on two consecutive plays in the third quarter. On the first play, Barnett used a power move to the inside when he felt the offensive tackle was over-playing his speed rush. He was able to hit the quarterback as he was delivering the football. On the second play, with the offensive tackle forced to respect his power move, Barnett smoked him around the edge for a sack.

"The tackle over-set me, and I put a good power move on him to the inside," Barnett said. "And then on the next play I think he was sitting down more, because he was probably expecting power, and I beat him around the edge."

Rush No. 1:

Rush No. 2:

That's pretty basic stuff, however, from Barnett's perspective, the addition of a quality second move could prove to be enormous. At Tennessee, Barnett's best move, by far, was his bend and dip around the edge. However, in the NFL, you cannot be a one-trick pony and be overly successful. It was clear that he needed to add a second move.

In the Eagles Week 1 preseason game in Green Bay, Barnett beat the left tackle inside with a power move of sorts (it was more with his stellar hand usage) for a sack.

It's just the preseason, and Barnett was working against reserves, but the early returns are very positive so far, especially considering that Barnett has been winning with something other than his bread and butter.

The calls for Barnett to gain more playing over current starter Vinny Curry are going to come soon, if they haven't already. At a minimum, he's going to see the field as a rookie, a lot, in obvious pass rush situations.

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