DE Derek Barnett, 6’3” 259 Tennessee
What He Does Well:
Elite production throughout his college career at Tennessee. Has excellent hand usage, uses swats and punches to beat offensive linemen. Plays with good strength. Can win and set the edge thanks to strength and leverage. Is a willing and stout run defender. Has a good motor, will wear down offensive linemen throughout the course of a game. Is a strong tackler who rarely allows ball carriers to get away. Can win outside with dip-rip move and inside with bull rush. Has a quick but inconsistent first step. Instinctive player who sniffs out counters and draw plays. Only player in SEC history to finish three consecutive seasons with at least 10 sacks.
Where He Needs Work:
Athleticism is just average. Lacks the explosive burst that most elite pass rushers possess. Wins mostly because of his hustle and hands not his athleticism. Has some issues changing directions. Feet are slow and often cannot keep up with his hand work. At 6’3” lacks prototypical length and could see his excellent hand usage negated some because of his frame. Needs to develop more pass moves to go along with his hands.
A three year starter at Tennessee, Barnett is one of the most productive pass rushers in recent college memory. Possessing violent hands and a good motor Barnett has made himself into a pretty solid NFL prospect despite his athletic and size deficiencies. His future in the NFL is likely as a base defensive end in a four man front thanks to his knack for playing the run. While not the most athletically gifted, I suspect Barnett will be taken somewhere in the mid to late first round to a team in need of a four man front edge rusher.