NFL Draft 2017: Philadelphia Eagles’ Derek Barnett offers pro comparison
PHILADELPHIA — Defensive end Derek Barnett broke Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee, and Eagles executives compared him to Terrell Suggs.
But Barnett, whom the Birds’ drafted with the No. 14 overall pick Thursday, said he models his game after a different pass rusher.
“I like watching film on [Seahawks defensive end] Michael Bennett,” Barnett said. “I think I resemble him. The way he plays the game — he has great hands, he has a nasty demeanor, and he knows how to get to the quarterback.”
At 6 feet, 3 inches and 259 pounds, Barnett is slightly smaller than Bennett (6-foot-4, 274 pounds), but they have similar body types and neither blew scouts away at the combine. Barnett’s middling numbers on explosion drills lingered as one of the concerns many analysts expressed leading up to the draft.
Barnett, though, said he found advantages at Tennessee through other methods.
“I did a lot of studying in college,” Barnett said. “I feel like that’s my edge. I’m not the 6-foot-5, 285 defensive end, who runs a 4.5 [40-yard dash]. So, I have to get an advantage mentally, and I feel like throughout my career, that’s what I did. I looked at the playbook, and I studied film of my opponents.”
NFL Draft 2017: Philadelphia Eagles pick Derek Barnett talks Reggie White, pro career
Barnett hopes to take those habits into the NFL, where he’ll aim to replicate — or perhaps surpass — Bennett’s productivity in the league. The former Texas A&M star has racked up 45.5 sacks over eight NFL seasons and reached two Pro Bowls.
Most enticing to Barnett, however, is that Bennett helped the Seahawks win a Super Bowl in 2014.
“When I’m done with football, I want to have some rings on my hand,” Barnett said. “That’s the reason I play.”
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