The speculation over which player Philadelphia would select in the opening round of this year's draft in front of the raucous home-town crowd continued all the way to Thursday night when Cleveland went on the clock with the No. 1 overall pick. A few mock drafts had the Birds adding another wide receiver with their 14th pick, but once Mike Williams and John Ross came off the board in the first 10 picks that plan came to an end.
Running back was another position the Eagles were looking to fill heading into the draft, but Leonard Fournette went to Jacksonville at No. 4 and Christian McCaffrey went to Carolina four picks later as the two top prospects in this year's class. There was some speculation that they would take former Florida State standout Dalvin Cook, but he remains on the board heading into Friday night's second round.
Everyone knew that Philly needed some help in their defensive secondary and both Marlon Humphrey and Adoree' Jackson were still on the board when the Eagles went on the clock at No. 14. However, team vice president Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson decided to go in a slightly different direction. It was no big surprise that they went with former Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett with that pick since he had been linked to Eagles throughout the entire draft process. He had a stellar three-year career as a Volunteer that was highlighted by breaking Reggie White's career record for sacks with 32.
The lone caveat to this pick was the fact that former Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen was still on the board at 14 and he eventually went to division rival Washington with the 17th overall pick. Looking back at most of the player rankings coming into this draft, Allen was expected to go in the first 10 picks. There was no real explanation why he dropped so far down in the opening round, but maybe the Eagles knew something that all the draft experts overlooked.
Both players are outstanding additions to their respective new defense and they are sure to be compared to one another over the next few seasons given that they will both be playing in the NFC East. Let hope that Barnett can continue to follow in the larger-than-life footsteps of No. 92 by breaking his NFL sack total someday.