The Eagles made defensive end Derek Barnett their first-round pick in this year’s draft and it was hard to miss the rookie’s connection to one of the greatest players in franchise history.
Barnett had 33 sacks during his career at Tennessee, which pushed him past Reggie White as the school’s record-holder in that category. During a media session at Tuesday’s Organized Team Activity, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was asked about Barnett and referred to that by saying that breaking a record held by White gets “your attention pretty quick” before moving on to other parts of Barnett’s game.
“He’s tough as can be,” Schwartz said in comments distributed by the team. “He’s good against the run and good against pass – played right and played left. All those things led us to draft him. How much he can contribute [and] how quickly he can be ready is up to him and coaches. It’s our job to get him ready to be out there. But we’re really excited about him. He can turn a corner and be like this high off the ground. You guys will notice that when you see him out there. He’s also been giving great effort in practice. We’ve pointed out his effort a couple times — chasing the ball and those kinds of things. For a rookie to do that kind of stuff has been pretty impressive so far.”
Schwartz said that “the engine that runs our defense is our defensive line and our pass rush.” Eagles defensive ends had 16.5 sacks last season, which was part of a pass rush that Schwartz said was not consistent enough and one that presumably leaves the door open for Barnett to play a big role if he continues to impress over the rest of the offseason.