Skip to main content

Ranking the 25 Best Eagles: Derek Barnett Sneaks in at No. 24

The much-maligned DE might have not lived up to the expectations of a first-round pick but that doesn't mean he's a bad player

In what surely won’t be a popular decision, the 24th best Eagles player entering the 2022 season as determined by SI.com’s Eagles Today is veteran defensive end and 2017 first-round pick Derek Barnett.

Eagles Today site publisher Ed Kracz and staff writer John McMullen put together their top 25 lists independent of each other’s and then assigned point values, with 25 points awarded to the player ranked first on each list, 24 to the player ranked second, and so on, with one point going to the player that was put 25th.

Ties were broken by the highest ranking from either reporter.

RELATED: Ranking the 25 Best Eagles on the Current Roster Begins at ...

Barnett received five votes in our polling, all from McMullen, who graded Barnett as No. 20 on his list while Kracz didn’t have the sixth-year player reaching his demarcation line.

To many, Barnett is dismissed by expectations in that he never lived up to the billing as a No. 14 overall pick who broke Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee.

Through his first five seasons, Barnett has amassed 23 sacks in 69 career games, including the playoffs, the apex being his value to the Super Bowl LII winning team as a rookie when he was there to scoop up Brandon Graham’s strip-sack of Tom Brady on the game’s biggest stage.

Barnett wasn’t expected back this offseason after playing out the final year of his rookie deal in 2021.

“I think going into free agency, he probably thought a little differently about where he would be,” GM Howie Roseman told reporters gathered in South Florida at the league meetings in March.

The thought of Barnett as a starter, making eight figures in average annual value shouldn’t have been tolerated by the fan base.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

That said, when you shift that to one year at $5.5 million with essentially a team option in 2023 as the fourth pass rusher behind marquee free-agent acquisition Hasson Reddick, the ascending Josh Sweat, and the returning Graham, for a player with Barnett's experience level who turns 26 later this month.

Well, you’re just being emotional if you have a problem with that.

“Ever since I got here, I see the same guy every single day that's determined every day to get better at his craft,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “Derek is obsessed with football and trying to become the best player that he can. I really appreciate that with him. He works hard in the classroom, the weight room, and works extremely hard on the field.”

It’s more than fair to point out Barnett has struggled to stay on the field at times and developed a reputation for being flagged at inopportune times but if you had access to a “Men in Black” mind-erasing device and could change his first-round pedigree to say a third-round tag it would be easy to admit Barnett is a more than a capable rotational player.

Now that the Eagles have rebooted the contract and the role, it’s time to also hit CTRL-ALT-DEL on the over-the-top criticism of a good football player just because he was expected to be a great one once upon a time.

“He doesn’t want the fans to think he couldn’t play at a high level consistently,” Graham said of Barnett. “... I’m happy DB got another chance to come back and prove what he can do.”

THE LIST SO FAR

No. 25 - Jack Driscoll

No. 24 - Derek Barnett

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen