Ron Jaworski, Sal Paolantonio, and Mike Golic broke down the first round of the NFL Draft today at Xfinity Live for the NFL Draft’s Chalk Talk event. Eagles first round pick Derek Barnett stopped by to talk about his draft experience and his future in Philadelphia. The panel discussed Barnett’s fit in the Eagles defense and the effect that the draft has had on the city of Philadelphia. I was also able to sit down with Jaworski in an exclusive one- on- one interview.
Paolantonio opened up the discussion with a story of the first time he saw Derek Barnett play. He remembers Jaworksi telling telling him to watch Barnett’s tape. Jaworski said to Paolantonio, “this is the next Reggie White in Philly.” This is high praise for the 1st round draft pick, but not the first time he has drawn comparisons to the great Reggie White. Barnett broke White’s career sack record at the University of Tennessee. Now being drafted by the Eagles, Barnett will surely continue to be compared to the Hall of Famer. Paolantonio then continued to praise Barnett saying, “he will be the Carson Wentz of the defense with his quiet leadership.” He also said, “Barnett will represent this city in the right way.” The focus of Paolantonio was on Barnett’s character and how is attitude fits Philadelphia. If Barnett can live up to the expectations placed on him and retain his strong personality he will be loved in Philadelphia.
Next Mike Golic touched on how Barnett can help the Eagles defense. He said to the crowd, “you will love this man’s motor.” Barnett is known for being relentless and chasing down tackles all over the field. Golic thinks that this is a perfect fit in Jim Schwartz’s defense. Barnett will not have to do everything right away on this defense. He is coming into a very good defensive line and will draw a lot of one- on- one blocks in passing situations. Jaworski agreed saying, “Barnett is a perfect fit in Schwartz’s defense, he will help the rotation stay fresh and he can get to the quarterback.” Jim Schwartz’s defense allows the lineman to be aggressive and get up the field quickly. This fits Barnett’s skill set perfectly. All of the panelists agree that Barnett is a great fit in Philadelphia and he will help the defense tremendously.
Barnett then joined the group and he talked about his draft experience. Barnett said that he felt welcomed by the fans. Barnett said. “this city is great and I love the passion of the fans.” The players also were quick to embrace Barnett. A number of Barnett’s new teammates reached out to him to welcome him to the team. Barnett is happy to be in Philadelphia and he wants to help this team win. Barnett said that the Eagles were one of the teams he wanted to be drafted by. “I think I fit in with this team great, this is where I want to be.” This is a great sign for the Eagles. Barnett is ready to work and he is happy to be here.
Finally, I had the opportunity to speak with Ron Jaworski.
I first asked Jaworksi what it took to get the draft in Philadelphia and if it can come back in the future. Jaworski said that it took a monumental effort to get the draft in Philly. It took 14 months of work with the Mayor’s office, Congressman Brady, and Jeffrey Lurie to bring this event to the city. Jaworksi said that the NFL loved the pitch, “the NFL loved the idea of combining the passion of the NFL with the arts.” He continued to say, “the NFL loves the culture of the community in Philadelphia.”
I then asked Jaws what he thought about the Eagles selection of Derek Barnett and how he will fit into the defense. Jaworski, “I really like this pick.” Jaworski was very excited about the selection of Barnett. “Barnett can really come off the edge”, Jaworki said. He thinks Barnett will have a chance to flourish in Jim Schwartz’s defense. “He is a great fit in the wide 9” Jaws also said, “Barnett will help this defense out a lot.” Jaworski is a big fan of the Eagles selection and he believes it was the right choice for the team.
I asked Jaworski what he thought the Eagles should do moving forward in the draft. He said, “defense, defense, defense.” Jaws wants the team to start looking at corners. He thinks that they need to build up the defense and add depth. The only exception Jaworski made was if Dalvin Cook fell to the Eagles. He said, “go defense unless Cook is there.” Jaworski does not want a receiver right away. With the acquisitions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, he thinks Carson Wentz is set to have a big year. “He will be light years ahead of where he was last year. Jaworski’s final statement was focusing the need of a running back. “Quarterbacks are dependent on those around them, Wentz needs a running back.”
Eagles fans should be excited to see Derek Barnett chasing down quarterbacks in midnight green.