We've seen enough of you, Marcus Smith. Wish you'd been more productive, Vinny Curry. Hey, Brandon Graham, now you have some help. Oh, and Jim Schwartz, don't say we never did anything for you.
The Eagles took a pass rusher, Derek Barnett from the University of Tennessee, with their first-round pick Thursday night, the draft's 14th overall selection. And you could forgive the tepid reaction from the reported 70,000 people who Woodstocked the area around the Art Museum when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Barnett's name. Not because Barnett isn't a talented player or won't turn out to be a fine pick. Anyone who breaks Reggie White's career sack record at Tennessee - which Barnett did, recording 33 over his three seasons there - deserves some respect. It's just that the Eagles fans and followers have been here before, have seen this before, and what they had seen was, in general, underwhelming.
The Eagles took Smith in the first round in 2014, and he has all of four sacks over his three seasons here. They drafted Curry in the second round in 2012, signed him last year to a five-year contract that could be worth as much as $47.25 million on the promise that, with increased playing time and in Schwartz's 4-3, wide-9 alignment, he would reach his potential. He had 2 1/2 sacks last season, the same number that Smith did. They made Graham their first-round pick in 2010, and only last year did his skills fully flower. He had a fine season, and still he had just 5 1/2 sacks. The Eagles as a team had just 34 sacks in 2016, the 16th-most in the league. And they decided that, for the financial and player-personnel resources that they have poured into pursuing opposing quarterbacks in recent years, they needed to allocate more.
"That's part of the equation," Eagles vice president Howie Roseman said. "But by the same token, as we look at how we were building this and what we want to look like, we've got to be able to get pressure on the quarterback. This is a 20-year-old pass rusher and someone who could be here for a long time, and for us, it's something where, when you look at the draft and say, 'How do you get these guys? How do you acquire pass rushers?' they're really hard to acquire. It's tough to fill the position, and you can never have enough of those guys."
OK, but if you keep having to draft defensive ends because the ones you have aren't getting the job done, then it's more difficult to fill other positions of need - such as, say, cornerback. Nevertheless, Roseman and director of player personnel Joe Douglas opted for trying to buttress what is supposed to be the strength of Schwartz's defense: edge rushers who can get to the quarterback without Schwartz's having to call a blitz to assist them.
"Anyone we pick, we want them to fit our schemes offensively and defensively," Roseman said. "It's easy to watch Derek and to picture what he'd do in this scheme. We believe in building up front on both sides of the ball and getting pressure on the quarterback. I think that helps everyone. It certainly helps the secondary."
And this is a secondary that, at the moment, remains in desperate need of help - unless you are comfortable with a starting cornerback pairing of Patrick Robinson and Jalen Mills. There were corners available for the Eagles to take at No. 14. Alabama's Marlon Humphrey and USC's Adoree Jackson went within the next four picks, and who knows? Had Ohio State's Gareon Conley not been tainted with a mysterious sexual assault allegation, he might have been a viable selection, too. But this is, by all accounts, a deep draft for cornerbacks, and the Eagles still have Friday and Saturday to address the position. They have to. It's asking an awful lot of a rookie to help the secondary so much so soon, even if that rookie did spend much of his college career dominating offensive linemen in the vaunted Southeastern Conference.
"I'm not scared of the tougher level of competition," Barnett wrote earlier this week in an essay for the Players Tribune. "I've spent the last three seasons playing in the best conference in college football, and I was able to find success even when teams tried everything they could to take me out of games.
"I'm not scared of the big stage. I know what it's like to play in a stadium where you can't hear the person next to you. I know what it's like to line up across from a player who is just as physically gifted as me, and I know that I can beat him using my superior technique."
The Eagles' scouting staff saw as much from him on film. One day in December, Douglas stopped into Roseman's office and "started raving about Derek Barnett," Roseman said. With that, he showed Douglas a piece of paper. On the paper, Roseman had written Barnett's name.
"He stands for what we want to be," Roseman said, "and I think everyone in this city will see what kind of person he is, what kind of player he is: unbelievably high character, unbelievable worker, tremendously talented and productive."
He had better be.