The Philadelphia Eagles selected Derek Barnett with the No. 14 overall pick last night. Now it’s time to see how experts have graded the pick. Draft grades are hardly the be-all and end-all to determining whether a pick is good or not, but it’s interesting to see what non-Eagles fans are saying about the selection. Let’s get some perspective from outsiders.
But before we get to the grades, allow me to note how Eagles fans have reacted to the pick so far. With nearly 4400 votes cast, 72% of the Philadelphia faithful approve of the Barnett selection. Compare that to the previous three Eagles first round picks: Carson Wentz at 90%, Nelson Agholor at 80%, and Marcus Smith at 65%.
When asked to give a letter grade for the Barnett pick, here’s how the results played out.
I'd give the Eagles a B+ or A- for the pick. I firmly believe in the old adage that you can never have enough pass rushers. But the main thing that frustrates me about this pick doesn’t have to do with Barnett himself. It’s the fact the Eagles paid Vinny Curry over $40 million to be a part-time player and felt they needed to draft his replacement just one year later. Sad!
Now for more hot takes and draft grades from "experts" around the web.
If the Eagles were after production, they got it with Barnett. Philadelphia is stacking defensive linemen who can get after the quarterback with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Timmy Jernigan. The four man rush in Philadelphia will improve the team’s pass coverage. The only knock is that Barnett isn’t the cornerback the Eagles desperately need, and there are a bunch available.
This is a good pick. It’s a relatively safe pick. It does not address the Eagles’ biggest need, which is at cornerback, and it also ignores a couple players who slipped down the board. The real positive is in pairing Barnett’s skill off the edge with Jim Schwartz’s scheme. Barnett can line up wide and worry about little else beyond penetrating into the backfield, which is exactly the type of role that should play to his strengths as a pass rusher. Brandon Graham, Chris Long and Barnett make for a talented DE trio from which Schwartz should be able to find a lot of sacks.
The Joe Douglas effect has already hit the Eagles’ draft. The team’s first-year college scouting director cut his teeth with the Ravens and learned from them: historically, sack production translates from college (especially in the SEC) to the NFL. Barnett might not be an elite athlete, but he has a terrific motor and wills his way to quarterbacks. Opposite Brandon Graham, there should be no dropoff with Barnett essentially replacing Connor Barwin.
Derek Barnett broke Reggie White's University of Tennessee sack record with 33 career sacks. According to one school of thought, that makes Barnett, well, perhaps not better than the Minister himself, but certainly better than Garrett.
Folks, teams attempted between 20 and 25 passes per game against the Volunteers in White's heyday. They attempt about 33 passes per game now. Sacks are a lot easier to come by than they used to be.
And as great as Barnett is, he's not a generational prospect like Garrett. He's an excellent all-around pass-rusher who can handle himself against the run and showed occasional ability to drop into coverage without needing a roadmap. He lacks an array of technical moves, however, as well as Garrett's all-galaxy athleticism and ability to make opponents rewrite their playbooks.
Barnett is a better all-around defender and safer choice than many other big-name edge-rushers on the draft board, like Taco Charlton and Takkarist McKinley. Somewhere between overrating him because of a record and underrating him because he lacks fizzy "upside," the Eagles got this selection just right.
No, Philly Phaithful: He's not Reggie White. But there are Mike Mamulas lurking in this draft, and Barnett is not that, either. He'll fit the system, upgrade the pass rush, and not get pushed around when the Cowboys start running in his direction 40 times per game.
Things are going well for those that wait, as the Eagles just picked up a highly prolific pass rusher with the 14th pick after a bunch of wideouts and quarterbacks came off the board early. Barnett gets dogged for not being athletic enough, which is a bizarre thing to be concerned about for a guy who has the pass-rushing chops that Barnett does. Ever heard of a guy named Reggie White? He was pretty good, and Barnett broke his Tennessee record for sacks in a career, finishing with 33 for his career. He's got a non-stop motor and outstanding hands. If he'd tested better, we'd have been talking about him going even higher.
Even though the Eagles gave up their 2017 first-rounder for quarterback Carson Wentz, they were a beneficiary of Minnesota's need for a quarterback, as they got back into the first round by trading Sam Bradford last eyar. The way Wentz played this year showed they didn't really miss Bradford. They got the second-best pure edge rusher in the draft in Barnett at No. 14.