CFB Player Bracket: Derek Barnett vs. Deatrich Wise Jr.
Two elite SEC pass rushers square off in this first-round matchup of PFF’s best players in college football. Tennessee’s Derek Barnett is the more productive of the two, but played a larger number of snaps. Arkansas’ Deatrich Wise Jr. was more productive on a per-snap basis but played significantly less than Barnett. We expect both players to have very productive seasons as pass rushers, but only one can advance in our bracket.
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The case for Derek Barnett
Derek Barnett’s +42.7 pass rushing grade in 2015 ranks No.1 among all returning FBS defenders. Barnett generated 10 sacks, 10 hits, and 42 hurries on 374 pass rush snaps in 2015. He played in 79.7 percent of the Volunteers’ defensive snaps but lined up primarily on the left-side. He has the ability to shift inside to defensive tackle as a sub-package rusher. Barnett is very agile and uses a sudden burst of lateral movement to get from one side of a blocker to the other. He uses this lateral burst to quickly beat guards or as an inside counter rush against tackles. He has the flexibility and body lean to really flatten around the edge on his outside rushes.
Barnett tosses aside tight ends and running backs that try to block him. He’s a very technically sound player who rushes with a plan in mind but is capable of quickly changing it with counters in response to his opposition. There is a timing and precision to the way Barnett’s hands and feet operate in unison as he uses a club, rip, swim, hand swat, long arm stab, inside counter and inside spin counter moves. Simply put, Barnett is one of the nation’s best defenders.
The case for Deatrich Wise Jr.
Deatrich Wise Jr.’s +18.8 pass rushing grade in 2015 ranks No. 19 among returning FBS edge defenders. He generated 10 sacks, 12 hits, 21 hurries on only 250 pass rush snaps in 2015. Wise Jr. is a very long player, standing 6-6 with long arms that he uses effectively in his pass rushes. Wise Jr. tries to get his hands on his man early and steer the encounter from there. He uses his long and powerful limbs to shed blockers with ease. His pass rushes rely considerably more on power than speed and he uses a bull rush more frequently and effectively than Barnett. Wise Jr. uses a rip, inside counter, long arm stab, bull rush and a bull-jerk counter rush. He rushed successfully both inside at defensive tackle and outside at both defensive end positions in 2015.
His long arms and long stride help him cover ground quickly which makes him a more effective finisher than Barnett, as he had two more QB hits than Barnett but on 124 less rushes. Wise Jr. only played in 42.9 percent of the Razorbacks’ defensive snaps in 2015 and should see an increase in production with an increase in snaps in 2016. Wise Jr.’s per snap pass rush production and his positional versatility help to make his case to advance.
The Verdict: Derek Barnett advances
Barnett had more total pressures than Wise Jr. in 2015 but wasn’t as effective rushing on a per-snap basis. Wise Jr.’s 13.9 pass rush productivity rating was actually higher than Barnett’s 13.1 and Wise. Jr should see an increase in total production this year with an increase in snaps. Wise Jr. rushes almost equally from both sides while Barnett rushed from the left side 76.9 percent of the time last season.
They are stylistically different pass rushers, as Barnett relies more on technique and lateral agility while Wise Jr. relies more on length and power. Both of these players are obviously talented with NFL futures but Derek Barnett’s total production and better run defense grade give him the edge over Deatrich Wise, Jr. in the opening round of our bracket.
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