According to a report by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, some scouts doubt former Vol defensive end Derek Barnett’s ability as a pro.
Barnett, who broke Reggie White’s all-time sack record at Tennessee with his 33rd career sack in the Music City Bowl against Nebraska, has consistently received first round grades and has routinely been placed in the top 15 picks of the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft by draft analysts. But according to Zierlein, an unnamed AFC North area scout has questions about Barnett’s ability at the next level.
According to the scout, Barnett is “physical and he’s got great production,” but goes on to add that some scouts doubt his ability to produce at a high level in the NFL because “he’s not very explosive off the ball. He won’t overpower NFL tackles like he did in college.”
Zierlein, however, doesn’t have those same reservations.
Zierlein goes on to add that while he had his own questions about Barnett heading into the 2016 season, those concerns have been assuaged. “In the process of watching his 2016 tape and creating my draft profile for him, I began to buy into what I was seeing,” Zierlein stated. “He will definitely win on the next level.”
That wasn’t the only praise Zierlein had for Barnett. Zierlein went on to add that Barnett “has deft hand work that can gain him a quick win.” He states that pass rushing in the NFL isn’t all about speed and having good bend around the edges, something Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett is often praised for. Instead, it also takes strength and good hand skills as well, which Zierlein believes Barnett has.
“Barnett takes efficient routes to the quarterback and his ability to stand up as a run defender should not be underestimated,” Zierlein added. “The production he posted over three years in the SEC wasn’t an accident. He’ll be a good pro starter.”
Barnett has been invited to the NFL combine, which begins on February 28th. The former Vol standout will be with the other defensive linemen on Day 3 of the combine and will go through evaluations from March 2nd through March 5th.