Could The Lions Draft Derek Barnett In April?
Over the past three season Tennessee’s Derek Barnett has been one of the most productive players in college football. In 39 career games he recorded 33 sacks, which broke the school record held by Reggie White. He also added 52 tackles for loss. Not only was he productive, he was also durable. The junior appeared in all of Tennessee’s games during his time on campus.
One thing that makes Barnett stand out from other pass rushers at the college level is how he is able to use his hands. He uses his strong hands to keep blockers from getting their hands on him.
Another thing about Barnett is he has very good field awareness. He isn’t easily fooled by counters, play-action, reverses or screens. He seems to always know where the ball is. Also Barnett seems to understand angles well and has a non-stop motor. Those factors help him chase down ball-carriers.
As far as pass rush moves Barnett doesn’t have many. Fortunately for him the ones he has seem to work pretty well. Most of the time he depends on timing the snap well and beating the tackle around the edge. To get to the quarterback he uses leverage, has good balance and can bend around the edge. Occasionally he tries to mix other things in such as a spin move when he feels the tackle is off-balance. He will have to add to his game if he wants to continue to be productive at the next level.
Unlike some guys Barnett isn’t just a pass rusher, he does well against the run as well. His strong frame allows him to set the edge. His field awareness and hustle allow him to make plays.
Like everything in life Barnett isn’t perfect. As previously mentioned he often relies on timing the snap to get gain an advantage over the tackle. Because he isn’t a psychic, another possible knock on him, he sometimes guesses wrong and draws penalties.
Something else that concerns some people is that he isn’t an elite athlete. His numbers at the combine weren’t great, but he was also sick so it’s hard to read too much into those numbers. Barnett will never be the athlete that Myles Garrett or Jadeveon Clowney are. However there are still many things that he does well. Also he is still good enough of an athlete to be able to have success in the NFL.
Many mock drafts predict Barnett will be gone before the Lions get the chance to pick him. But those things are often wrong. If he is still on the board when the Lions pick at 21 there is a real chance he won’t be available to be picked 22nd. Detroit is desperate to find a pass rusher to pair with Ziggy Ansah. There are some things that Barnett has to work on but rarely is a prospect a finished product. Barnett could develop into a really good player and the Lions would likely be happy to have him.