VFL Derek Barnett was the first Tennessee player to hear his name called at the 2017 NFL Draft. In front of a raucous home crowd, Barnett was just selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the draft’s 14th overall pick. He’s the first Tennessee player to be selected in the draft since Ja’Wuan James, Zach Fulton, and Daniel McCullers were taken back in 2014. It’s been an embarrassing stretch in the desert, but it’s over now.
Barnett left Rocky Top early for the NFL on the heels of a three-year Tennessee career during which he set a new all-time career sack record with 33, overtaking Reggie White’s previous mark of 32. Barnett needed only three years to do it, getting 10 as a true freshman in 2014, another 10 the following year, and 13 this past season. He’s also had 52 tackles for loss in his career.
Barnett had more sacks (13) this year than Myles Garrett (8.5), who was this year’s first overall pick, and he also had more in his career (33) than Garrett had in his (32.5). I don’t point that out to discredit Garrett at all. He’s fantastic. It’s just that Barnett is just as good. The only reason Barnett went later in the draft than Garrett is because of stupid Combine and Pro-Day scores that measure things that defensive linemen don’t have to do. As I said earlier, it ain’t 40 yards to the quarterback, y’all. And he’s not straight up in the air, either.
Barnett and head coach Butch Jones were at the draft to enjoy the moment.
Congrats to Barnett and his family. He’s made us Vols fans proud for three years now, and we’re happy to see him reap his rewards.