The Detroit Lions enter this upcoming draft in need of defensive playmakers. From the defensive line to the secondary, Detroit hopes to find themselves players that can impact the team on the field. To finally make the leap and win the division for the first time since 1993, Detroit must find the guys who can make plays in this draft.
The position in desperate need of an improvement falls on the defensive line, that is, at least on that side of the ball. The team only recorded 26 sacks on the season, which is tied for second to last in the entire league. To make matters worse, only defensive end Kerry Hyder recorded over five sacks on the year, finishing the season with eight sacks. The Lions have addressed the defensive line in the offseason, signing some solid players and re-signing a few key rotational guys.
However, those moves may not be enough to improve the roster they already have. To compete in the NFC North, where every team is chasing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, you should be able to sack the quarterback. The Lions inability to get to opposing quarterbacks played a major part of their reverse entrance into the playoffs losing three straight to quality opponents.
The junior “Sack Master” has enjoyed nothing short of a prolific career as a Tennessee Volunteer. Breaking all-time great Reggie White’s sack record, Barnett will look to continue his success reaching the quarterbacks in the NFL. The Nashville native has immense potential, and if it weren’t for a player like Myles Garrett, Derek Barnett would be considered one of the top ends in this draft.
The tape is in. Grant Baker, the resident draft expert, has made a list of Barnett’s strengths and weaknesses.
Very impressive ability to bend the edge
Technician, excellent hand usage and multiple moves to disengage from blocks
Excellent production against SEC competition
Lacks a go-to inside counter move
Does not have the elite athletic ability of other edge rushers in this class
At 6’3” with a 32 ⅛” arm, is slightly undersized
Barnett is a very technically skilled edge rusher with a high floor but a relatively low ceiling. He has the edge bend to play weak side edge rusher, and the ability against the run to play on the strong side. His length and athletic limitations will likely prevent him from reaching All-Pro status, but he should be a quality defensive end for a long time.
How Barnett fits in Detroit
The ability to make plays, and impact the game from his defensive end position makes Derek Barnett a fit in Detroit. Opposite of Ezekiel Ansah, Barnett can wreak havoc in an opposing team’s backfield. Having two defensive ends on both sides that can rush the passer improves both player’s game. Ziggy Ansah will benefit from the help, while Barnett will be able to succeed early with talent opposite of him.
Depth is still a major concern for Detroit’s defensive line, and it never became more imminent than when Ansah went down to injury. Barnett is the kind of lineman that can play all three downs and can play the run almost as well as he can rush the passer. His playmaking ability will give Barnett the chance to make an impact early and often while he is on the field.
Derek Barnett amongst the top defensive ends in this year’s draft class. Barnett has the potential to be the impact rookie that Ndamukong Suh was for the Lions in 2010. Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin will not require calling blitzes regularly to add pressure if Barnett can live up to his potential.
Scenario Where the Lions Draft Derek Barnett
TRADE ALERT! Well, not exactly. At the beginning of this draft process it was almost expected that Derek Barnett would be available around the time the Lions selects. However, as this draft inches closer, Barnett appears to be rising on teams’ draft boards. Detroit may be fortunate enough to see the Tennessee product fall to them, but they shouldn’t count on it.
If in fact, Derek Barnett does drop to 21 in the first round, he’s the guy for the Lions. Other defensive ends like Taco Charlton or Charles Harris will likely be available at that selection as well. If all three are available, I’d imagine that the Lions would end up choosing Barnett.
Be that as it may, the reality of the situation is that Derek Barnett will be a tough prospect to sit and wait for at the slot the Lions are selecting. The brief history of Lions GM Bob Quinn and his former New England Patriots ties shows that he will probably not want to trade up for a player.
Of course, guys like Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas are the “dream prospects” at the position in this draft. The realistic “dream prospect” the Lions can see themselves obtaining would be Derek Barnett, as he fits into their system so well and fills a need at a position the team is searching for desperately. Fans should be satisfied if Detroit can manage to walk away with Barnett when round one is done.