3 team fits for edge defender prospect Derek Barnett
Former Tennessee edge defender Derek Barnett was right at the top of our list of 10 prospects we like more than most in the draft community. While he doesn’t look the part, he played exceptionally well for three straight seasons in Knoxville. Just ask any SEC linemen how good Barnett is after he torched the conference for 30 sacks over the past three seasons. Barnett is an every-down player who has more than enough athleticism to succeed at the NFL level.
What he does best
- He’s arguably the most talented hand-fighter in this class. Barnett is excellent at controlling every interaction and not letting linemen into his chest
- Barnett is so physical on contact. He possesses power throughout his frame and is unafraid to unleash it on offensive linemen.
- He jumps snaps so well that it’s hard to think he won’t continue to do so at the next level.
- At the end of the day, Barnett won more interactions than any other college edge rusher over the past two seasons.
Michael Johnson is on his last leg as a starter in the NFL. Last season, his 6.9 pass-rushing productivity mark was 38th among 53 qualifying 4-3 defensive ends. That’s not going to get it done much longer for a defense that took a considerable step back in 2016. While the Bengals seem to have a type at defensive end that is much taller and longer than Barnett, there’s likely no edge player with those traits that makes sense at the ninth-overall pick. The Bengals could use help at all three levels of their defense, but at the moment, pass rush is the most pressing.
While the Bengals covet large defensive ends, the Panthers seem to care more about every down ends. Despite his new deal, Mario Addison has never been utilized as anything other than a designated pass rusher while Charles Johnson is on the decline in his career and will turn 31 years old before the season. Someone will need to account for Kony Ealy’s 624 snaps from a season ago. Barnett would seamlessly fill that void while allowing Addison to continue to be fresh for third down packages.
The Ravens seem to eschew traditional height/weight/athleticism standards along their defensive line regularly and simply draft good football players. Even though they’d likely be classified as a 3-4, they don’t ask their outside linebackers to drop into coverage much at all. Terrell Suggs has been asked to drop into coverage on only 6.9 percent of his snaps over the past 11 seasons. At that point, Barnett’s coverage prowess, or lack thereof, is an afterthought. He could easily be the heir apparent to Suggs on the right side of the Ravens defensive line and offer the similar production versus run/pass.