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Eagles top 10 acquisitions of 2017: #9 — Derek Barnett

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Players make plays

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Virtually everything the Eagles touched in 2017 turned to gold silver. With free agency around the corner and the draft to follow, we look back at the top 10 moves the Eagles made on their path to the Super Bowl.

“I fucking love Derek Barnett” I emphatically proclaimed to BGN alum Adam Hermann as he recovered Brandon Graham’s strip sack of Tom Brady. (I also excitedly punched him in the ribs. Sorry buddy.) Because I fucking love Derek Barnett. Throughout his last season in Tennessee, throughout the draft process, and then in the draft, he was the second best pass rusher in the draft, and the Eagles had no shot at getting the top one as Myles Garrett went 1st overall. They got the BPRA--the Best Pass Rusher Available. You can find good players at quite a few positions later in the draft, but if you want a good pass rusher, you pretty much have to get one in the 1st round. It sure looks like the Eagles did.

Derek Barnett simply made plays in college, and he didn’t stop when he got to the NFL. Good pass rushers can struggle as rookies, and with Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Chris Long ahead of Barnett on the depth chart to start the season, finding playing time wasn’t going to be easy. But as the writer Nick Hornby once said, in sports you get found out. Sports are for the most part a meritocracy, people who can’t run don’t win races, people who can’t throw aren’t pitchers, people who can’t skate don’t play hockey. There are exceptions, as Elizabeth Swaney showed this week, but the point is that players find ways to make plays, and guys who can’t play don’t.

Derek Barnett did what he always does, he found ways to make plays. In Week 4 he recovered a fumble in a 2 point win against the Chargers. In Week 7 against the Redskins he had two sacks. In Week 8 against the 49ers he blocked and recovered a field goal. In Week 11 he had two sacks against the Cowboys. In Week 15 he blocked an extra point against the Giants. In Week 16 he recovered a fumble and scored a touchdown to ice a win over the Raiders. In the NFC Championship Game he forced a fumble that practically put the game away. In the Super Bowl he recovered a fumble that all but sealed the win, a play you’ll never forget. That’s a lot of plays for a rookie who was fourth on his depth chart.

He’s only just begun. And they got him for Sam freaking Bradford. I doubt I’m the first and I’m sure I won’t be the last when I say I fucking love Derek Barnett.