Derek Barnett didn't play quarterback in high school. He didn't have to transfer from offense to defense early in his collegiate career. He didn't play several positions in different schemes during his three years at Tennessee. And he didn't have just one productive season - he had three.
In other words, Barnett is not Marcus Smith.
Does that mean the 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive end will become an impact player in the NFL or that he won't become a first round bust? No. But there will certainly be less wishing and hoping once the Eagles get their top draft on the field.
As there should be. Barnett went 14th overall, 12 spots earlier than Smith did three years ago, and he seemed almost gifted to the Eagles as one offensive player after the other kept getting drafted Thursday night. Eight of the 13 first selections were quarterbacks (3), wide receivers (3), and running backs (2).
By the time the Eagles were on the clock, there were as many as four defensive players whom many analysts ranked among the top 10 overall prospects in the draft on the board. Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, safety Malik Hooker, linebacker Rueben Foster, and Barnett had seemingly slipped to the Eagles.
But Allen and Hooker had medical concerns and Foster had character questions, and the Eagles took the safest best of the four, the type of hard-nosed talent that new vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said that he typically looks for when he's scouting.
"He is a guy that is tough as nails," Douglas said. "When I think of some of the teams I used to watch growing up here in Philadelphia, he's going to fit in with some of those guys from the late '80s, early '90s Eagles teams. He's Philly tough."
That's high praise, but it's not exactly out of left field to compare Barnett to the Reggie Whites, Clyde Simmons or Seth Joyners who played on those Buddy Ryan-Bud Carson defenses. This past year he broke White's Volunteers record for sacks and finished with a total of 33 during his career.
Douglas wasn't about to compare Barnett to White, nor should he. That would be too daunting for the rookie. But there's another Hall of Fame-caliber edge rusher that Douglas wasn't afraid to place in the company of Barnett.
A young scout, Douglas was with the Ravens when they selected Terrell Suggs in the first round of the 2003 draft. And like Barnett, the 6-3, 260-pound Suggs didn't test well during pre-draft workouts. Fourteen seasons and a 1141/2 sacks later, Suggs is still in Baltimore.
"Both guys didn't test outrageously at the combine setting, at the pro day setting, but both are highly-productive players," Douglas said. "High toughness. Great people. Again, his production is unmatched."
Howie Roseman noted that Barnett had the flu at the combine in February and performed at his pro day despite a hamstring strain. But, again, the Eagles weren't as concerned with his testing because what they had seen on film impressed them so much.
As a freshman, Barnett recorded 73 tackles, 201/2 tackles for loss and nine sacks. As a sophomore, he notched 69 tackles, 121/2 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Last year, he totaled 56 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. And 28 of his 33 sacks came againt SEC competition.
"At the end of the day, the tape takes a good player," Douglas said. "That's the biggest part of his resume. He's done it at the highest level for a long time."
The Eagles have been burned on prospects that were high achievers in college before. But over the last seven years, since Roseman became general manager, they have had less luck with projections (see: Smith, Danny Watkins, Curtis Marsh.)
Douglas said that Barnett still has a high ceiling, but when he talks about players he often talks about what they have done rather than what they can do. Roseman brought Douglas in so that he would be exposed to a different language and a different method to ranking players.
"I don't know if it's necessarily a departure, but it's more stressed," Roseman said. "There's things that you're attracted to naturally and I think we balance each other on that stuff. I understand the reason why it's so important to have those guys on this football team."
Does that mean that Barnett is a Douglas guy and not Roseman guy? It's too early to say that for certain and when you're picking as high as No. 14, you're going to end up having a lot in common. But there are certain Roseman traits in Barnett - he mentioned his "high motor" - and picking a lineman in the first round isn't out of character for the vice president of football operations.
"Joe and I had a moment in December when he came into my office and started raving about Derek Barnett and I showed him a piece of paper I had written down with his name," Roseman said. "It was kind of a funny moment we had there."
There was a lot of smiling and joking as Roseman and Douglas took to the podium following the announcement. There's time to figure out how Barnett will fit in with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's scheme and the edge rushing personnel already on the roster (Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Chris Long and, ahem, Smith).
And time, really, to find out if he's legit.
But Roseman didn't have to do much explaining about the machinations of taking Barnett at No. 14. The Eagles have a pressure defense and the Tennessee rusher consistently applied pressure in college.
"We've got to able to get pressure on the quarterback," Roseman said. "This is a 20-year-old pass rusher and someone who could be here for a long time."