PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As Derek Barnett enter the auditorium at Eagles headquarters for his news conference, the team’s top draft pick walked by a giant picture of a former player on the wall. It is a picture of Reggie White, the man whose sack record was broken at Tennessee by Barnett. For the past day, the newest Eagle has heard comparisons connected with the man many believe is the greatest defensive lineman of all time. Barnett hardly seems rattled but the lofty expectations.
“I think Reggie was probably the greatest defensive lineman to ever play,” said Barnett. “I don’t think there will ever be another player like him.”
While it would be too much to ask for Barnett to match White’s career, falling a bit short of White’s accomplishments would be far from a problem for the Eagles. Barnett is being counted on to bolster the Eagles’ pass rush after terrorizing quarterbacks in the SEC. Barnett finished with 33 sacks in 39 games at Tennessee and hopes to continue to pile up sacks in the NFL. Barnett believes his experience in college has prepared him for the pro level.
“I played against a lot of great tackles week in and week out,” Barnett said. “In college, you win on Saturdays and on Sundays you celebrate but on Monday, you get back to work. I feel like that’s how it’s going to be in the NFL.”
While Barnett is eager to get to work, he understands he has a lot of work to do as he makes the transition to the NFL. Barnett understands there will be a lot to learn from the Eagles’ veterans as he begins his off-season work in South Philadelphia.
“I’m going to come in and learn my role,” said Barnett. “I’m going to get around these vets and learn what I have to do first. Me being a first-round pick doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t guarantee me a spot. I still have to come in and work and gain respect first.”
Barnett may be ready to make an immediate impact this season. If fans are going to continue with comparisons to an Eagles legend, Barnett will be happy to hear the high praise as his NFL career gets underway.
“Reggie White is a legend,” Barnett said. “I take it as a compliment. For me to be compared to him is a blessing.”