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Derek Barnett Selected 14th Overall In The 2017 NFL Draft

Derek Barnett

Derek Barnett Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles

With the 14th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Eagles have selected Derek Barnett from The University of Tennessee.

Barnett is one of the most productive EDGE players in college football history. He is a dynamic force off the edge, consistently stamping offensive lineman onto his highlight tape. At the University of Tennessee, he became the all-time sack leader with 33 sacks. At 6’3″, 260 pounds, Barnett uses his blend of size and speed to get around defenders. Sporting a 4.88 40-yard dash, Barnett can absolutely fly around offensive linemen.

University of Tennessee Career

As a blue-chip recruit out of high school, Barnett was expected to perform as a true freshman.

He delivered, performing at a higher level than anyone anticipated. In 2014, he became the first true freshman to start on Tennessee’s defensive line. He led the SEC that year with 20.5 tackles for loss, while adding 9 sacks. Even though he was just a true freshman, Barnett started all 13 games, and recorded 73 total tackles. Showcasing his pure pass-rush abilities, he quickly became the best player on Tennessee’s roster.

Coming into 2015, Barnett was not sneaking up on anyone. Offenses were forced to double team him, freeing up other defenders. Teams scheme their entire game plan around him. His stats took a hit, with just 12.5 tackles for loss, although still recording 10 sacks. Again, he started all 13 games, solidifying his status as a first-round talent.

After an electric start to his career, Barnett continued his dominance. Six different outlets awarded him All-American honors after a monster season in 2016. The Tennessee native sacked the quarterback 13 times and added 19 tackles for loss, wrapping up his most productive season. He holds the school record with 33 career sacks, which ranks first among all active NCAA FBS players. If that wasn’t enough, he is second in school history with 52 career tackles for loss.

Derek Barnett Analysis

Despite being a highly-touted pass-rusher, Barnett holds his own in the run game. He plays with fast, strong hands at the point of attack. Using his long frame, he consistently sets the edge and forces rushes inside. Excellent football IQ–doesn’t get fooled by screens or end-arounds. If left unblocked, Barnett will crash down the line quickly. Delivers crushing hits when given the chance, punishes ball carriers. Can stand up and play a hybrid role, and is decent in zone coverage.

According to Pro Football Focus, Barnett had 78 quarterback pressures in 2016. 45 of those 78 pressures came to the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle. This hints that he may need to work on some inside pass-rushing moves.  He was able to pressure the quarterback on 20 percent of his rushes, which is significantly more than the NCAA average of 10 percent. So basically, every five plays Barnett is putting pressure on the quarterback.

The biggest knock on Barnett is starting games slowly. He’s a high-motor guy, but can be slow to start at times. Sometimes hesitates and overthinks run plays instead of acting on instincts. Even though he is quick for 260 pounds, his feet are average. Mobile quarterbacks are his weakness, as they often elude him in the backfield. His hands are quick, but doesn’t have fast-twitch feet.  Sometimes can get into trouble with snap counts and offside penalties.

Bottom Line

Great players all have flaws, but even the list above is splitting hairs. Derek Barnett is a phenomenal pass rusher, and you will struggle to find a better one in the 2017 NFL Draft. His knowledge of the game, and unrivaled athleticism make him a mismatch in the trenches. Regardless of what role Barnett plays, he will create a long NFL career for himself.

He can play Outside Linebacker, EDGE, or a hybrid in the (teams) system. He should immediately upgrade the pass-rush, and has the potential to challenge (player name) for playing time.