This offseason, Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was once again busy tweaking the team’s roster. Although the club finished 7-9 for the second straight season, the roster was greatly improved thanks to hard work from the team’s executive. That upgrading has continued this year as the Birds were very busy during the free agency period and the NFL draft.

And the work hasn’t stopped this summer as Roseman recently swung a trade to acquire cornerback Ronald Darby from the Buffalo Bills. But even with all the improvements from veteran pickups, it has been a first-round pick from the University of Tennessee that has really opened up a lot of eyes.

A lot of newcomers

Along with Darby, the Philadelphia Eagles have added veteran defenders such as linemen Timmy Jernigan, Chris Long and Gabe Wright to bolster coordinator Jim Schwartz’s pass rush, as well as to bolster the team’s play against the run. There was also the signings of cornerback Patrick Robinson and Corey Graham to bolster the secondary. And Roseman used five of his eight draft picks in April on defense – three of those on defensive backs. But it was the pass-rushing potential of defensive end Derek Barnett that caused the Eagles to use the 14th overall pick on the talented youngster.

“I’ve been saying since Day 1: You ask me about Derek Barnett, he has a motor,” explained teammate Jordan Hicks to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer after Thursday night’s victory over the Buffalo Bills.

“He does not quit on any play. He’s going to continue to come after you, down after down after down.”

What Barnett brings

A little over a week ago, the Philadelphia Eagles came up short against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, 24-9, in the 2017 preseason opener for both clubs. But it was hard to ignore Barnett in the loss.

The rookie defensive end totaled four stops and two sacks for 20 yards in losses in the 15-point setback. On Thursday night at home, the player who broke Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White’s school record for sacks with the Volunteers had a pair of tackles and a sack in Philadelphia’s 20-16 victory. The 6’3”, 265-pound performer should be a major asset teaming with the likes of defensive ends Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Long.

So is it only a matter of time before Barnett cracks the starting lineup? Perhaps. In any case, this is suddenly a deeper and more talented defensive line with the offseason additions of Long, Wright, Jernigan and most especially Derek Barnett.