Former Tennessee DE Derek Barnett explains why he should be a top pick

PHILADELPHIA — The 2017 NFL Draft is loaded with elite defensive linemen.

Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, Alabama’s Jonathan Allen and Stanford’s Solomon Thomas are projected as top-five picks in most mock drafts.

However, a fourth defensive lineman — former Tennessee DE Derek Barnett — could sneak into the top 10.

Originally projected to go in the middle of the first round, if not later, Barnett has steadily climbed draft boards as Thursday’s opening round quickly approaches.

Barnett said he doesn’t pay attention to mock drafts, but added that whatever team selects him Thursday night will be getting a hard worker and great teammate.

“I think I’m very relentless and have a great get-off,” he said. “I’m also a great leader. I think I would bring a lot to a team.”

Though soft-spoken off the field, Barnett’s stats at Tennessee speak for themselves. He set a school record with 33 sacks in only three years, breaking the mark of 32 set by the legendary Reggie White.

Due to a less-than-stellar performance at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, during which he ran a subpar 4.88 40-yard dash, Barnett fell behind his position-mates, some of whom have more raw athleticism.

But, he said, teams shouldn’t judge him based on a couple of disappointing times.

“I’m not a great Combine tester,” he smiled. “If it was up to me, I probably wouldn’t even go. It is what it is. At the end of the day, we’re playing football and that’s all that matters. We’re not running track.”

As for what teams can expect from him, Barnett compared himself to a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end who also ran a slow 40-yard dash during the 2009 Combine.

“I like watching Michael Bennett play,” he said. “I think we’re pretty similar in our playing styles. He’s got a little chip on his shoulder and he plays with a nasty demeanor. He has great hands and knows how to get to the quarterback, so I’d say (I’m) probably like him.”

Bennett, a former Texas A&M Aggie and current Seattle Seahawks standout, went undrafted, something Barnett won’t have to worry about.

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah isn’t sure if Barnett will go in the top 10 or not, but thinks the ex-Volunteer could be an impact player for the Philadelphia Eagles, who have the No. 14 pick.

“I would be a little bit surprised (if Barnett was a top-10 pick),” he said. “I think you can look at 9 potentially with Cincinnati, but I think more than likely you’ll see him end up in that 10-20 range. I have him going to Philadelphia. He’d fit in with what coach (Jim) Schwartz does because he’s a really, really good pass rusher.”

Wherever Barnett ends up playing on Sundays, he said he wouldn’t mind having a former teammate or two join him.

“I’m cool with all my teammates,” he said. “They’re my boys. In this draft class, we’ve got about six or seven of them and they’re all great players. If I end up playing with any of them, it’ll be very fun.”

The first round of the 2017 NFL Draft kicks off at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday night and can be seen on ESPN.

Source: Saturday Down South

Report: Texas A&M has booted WR Kirk Merritt from the team

When all was said and done, Kirk Merritt’s jock itch defense must not have held up to Kevin Sumlin’s further questioning, as the former Oregon receiver has reportedly been dismissed from the Texas A&M program.

Several weeks after suspending Merritt for the team’s spring game, it appears the Aggies have decided to remove the former transfer receiver from the team.  According to Travis L. Brown of Aggie Sports, Merritt has been booted from the team per a Texas A&M official not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.

The receiver was held out of the Aggies spring game after admitting to exposing himself to two school tutors in less than a 24-hour span. Merritt’s attorney claimed the former Aggie simply had a bad case of jock itch. Soon after his suspension, the father of one of the tutors spoke out regarding Sumlin’s lack of action following the incident.

Merritt was a four-star prospect in the 2015 recruiting cycle. He played one season for Oregon before transferring to College Station. He sat out last season due to the NCAA’s transfer rules.

Source: Saturday Down South

Texas continues Oklahoma raid, lands 4-star DE Ron Tatum

For the third time this month, Texas has gone into the state of Oklahoma and come out with one of the nation’s top recruits.

The Longhorns obtained a commitment from four-star defensive end Ron Tatum III on Wednesday, plucking the Oklahoma City native away from nemesis Oklahoma and a number of other interested programs.

“I chose Texas because of their defense and the coaches were great when I went down there,” Tatum told Rivals’ Josh Helmholdt. “They answered all my questions without me even asking. They guaranteed me the chance to play in the NFL.”

Tatum joins quarterbacks Casey Thompson and Cameron Rising as four-star prospects to spurn the state of Oklahoma and the Sooners in favor of the team on the other side of the Red River Rivalry. Rising hails from California, but flipped his commitment to Texas on Saturday after declaring his intention to play at Oklahoma a year ago.

Texas now has six prospects pledged to the program for 2018, five of which have four-star ratings on the ESPN 300. Tatum is listed 77th overall, but eighth among defensive ends and second among prospects from Oklahoma.

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Source: The Score