With the 14th pick in the NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles picked Derek Barnett out of Tennessee. This edge defender was one of the most productive pass rushers in college since he started as a true freshman for the Volunteers. In three seasons, he totaled 33 sacks in the SEC just three sacks shy from tying the NCAA career sack record held by Hau’oli Kikaha from Washington and Bruce Miller from Central Florida. What’s even more impressive is that he still has a full year of eligibility while Kikaha and Miller played all four seasons.
As a pass rusher, Barnett relies on a dip-and-rip speed rush. He used this move over and over again at Tennessee beating defenders off the edge. While his burst and overall athleticism is definitely not elite, he pairs it with excellent snap timing to gain an advantage. While this worked for most of his career, NFL quarterbacks will be able to get him to jump offsides with a hard count.
Barnett is a high effort player and doesn’t take plays off. His relentless motor was extremely impressive. I don’t think he’s going to produce Von Miller type numbers in the pros, but he could become a very solid edge player for his career.
For his player comparison, I think he’s most similar to Brian Orakpo from the Tennessee Titans. Both are hustle players who are better as strongside edge defenders in the NFL. Both defenders also heavily rely on one pass rushing move. Overall, I gave this pick an “A”, because his effort and run defending abilities are excellent.
After watching the tape, how many sacks per year do you think he’ll muster against NFL blockers?