Tennessee football’s top 10 NFL players to open 2021 season

Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs after a catch against the Houston Texans during the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs after a catch against the Houston Texans during the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /
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October 4, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett (96) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
October 4, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett (96) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Philadelphia Eagles. 3. 54. Defensive end. Derek Barnett. player

NFL experience: 5th year

Once upon a time, Tennessee football was Defensive Line U. Now, though, the Vols just have Darrell Taylor with the Seattle Seahawks, Shy Tuttle with the New Orleans Saints and Derek Barnett with the Philadelphia Eagles. Tuttle, the only defensive tackle, is a part of the rotation but not starting. Taylor was a high draft pick last year but battled injuries, so he has to prove himself.

Barnett, meanwhile, is the biggest star of the three. The Vols’ all-time leader in career sacks had a splash of a first season, appearing in 15 games and coming away with the game-winning fumble recovery to lead Philly to its first Super Bowl championship that year.

Since then, though, he hasn’t exploded onto the scene the way he was expected to as a first-round draft pick. To be fair, he had a major injury in 2018, which slowed him down. The past two years, he’s been a reliable starter for Philly.

Just being a reliable starter who makes big plays will put you up on this list, and that’s what the 6’5″ 259-pound edge rusher does. He has 12 sacks the past two years, 16 tackles for a loss and 64 tackles, 46 of which were solo. He’s a very good playmaker, and fully healthy, he could unleash on quarterbacks this year.