Derek Barnett Poised For A Breakout Year for Birds
The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the deepest defensive line units in the National Football League. With veterans Brandon Graham, Chris Long and Michael Bennett the Eagles have plenty of depth at the position.
And then there is second year DE Derek Barnett.
With so many high profile names at the position, its easy for Barnett to fly beneath the radar. However, he is one player that could end up making a huge jump in his second season with this defense, and might possibly be one of the most talented players on the entire squad, after being selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
"Most players make a significant improvement from year one to year two," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said about Barnett back in mini-camp in May. "I think it's sort of one of the adages of the NFL. That's where you see a significant improvement. He set that bar pretty high in his first year. Made a lot of big plays for us. Also gained a lot of experience dealing with the long season and not just four preseason games [and the regular season], but deep into the playoffs and things like that. He had some bumps and bruises just like everybody, and the experience of dealing with that stuff. But, yeah, I think he's more seasoned now, little bit stronger now."
In his rookie season, Barnett showed flashes, with 21 tackles, five sacks, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. Not half bad for a rookie playing behind Graham, Long and Vinny Curry in 2017.
Now in his second season, with Jim Schwartz back as the defensive coordinator, and even with the big names on this defense, Barnett could be poised to have a breakout season for the Eagles.
Schwartz knows that, while he made an impact as a rookie, everything should slow down for Barnett, making him an even bigger force in year No. 2.
"Obviously, he's been through the ringer, knows what to expect," said Schwartz back in May. "I think that's a big part of young players too. When you're a rookie, there is so much uncertainty, and after you do it once, it settles down."