Eagles first round pick and new defensive end Derek Barnett doesn’t act like a young rookie of 2017. He’s like an old fashioned rookie, who was drafted back in the 1970’s or 1980’s. You would think he was a free agent rather than the number one pick for the Eagles in this draft. Barnett wants to get on the field at whatever position he can and prove what he can do.
His attitude about playing at the right defensive end position or at the left defensive end position says it all.
“I’m trying to play anywhere I can help contribute”, the young rookie said. “That’s left or right. anywhere there’s a need I’m willing to play the position.”
“I played both in college,” Barnett said, “but the majority was on the right, but I played left as well. To me, defensive end is defensive end. If you can play you can play.”
This is the proper way to enter the NFL. He’s not making any demands. He just wants to do his talking on the football field.
I spent a few days eating and talking with the youngster, and his Mom and little brother before the draft at the Logan Hotel off the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.
Barnett might have smiled three or four times during that entire day and a half before he was drafted. He’s very polite and respectful. It’s yes sir, no sir. The kid is no nonsense. He is on a mission. Right away he’s talking about learning everything he can, so he knows the Pro Game. He asks questions and then he listens.
The young defensive end knows that you have to put in the work. Nobody gives it to you. You must be willing to put in the work. If you want to succeed on the NFL level, you must be willing to work on your skills and your technique. Barnett knows this and he is focused on getting better.
When I asked him about how he developed his quick “Get Off” at the snap of the ball.
“Just over and over and over repping in practice”, Barnett said. “Coming from high school and college we did that a lot in practice. Having good eyes, making sure I’m looking at the ball and the tackle as well. Having good peripheral vision.”
In the first practice as an Eagle, Barnett showed us some of the skills he has developed. This young man knows how to get off at the snap of the football and come around the corner just six inches off the ground. Barnett knows how to get very low on the corner. Offensive tackles in the NFL have major trouble getting that low.