Signee: Tyler Baron, SDE
Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 255 pounds
School: Knoxville Catholic (Tennessee)
Home Town: Knoxville, TN
247Sports Composite: No. 112 overall, No. 5 SDE
247Sports: No. 130 overall, No. 7 SDE
Rivals: 5.9 rating, No. 108 overall, No. 6 SDE
Notable Offers: Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma
What we like:
Versatility, long arms, and good strength. Those are the things that immediately stand out to me when watching Baron’s senior film. He has a good initial push off the line of scrimmage, and he has enough athleticism to give even pretty mobile tackles some trouble. He already has the ideal build to be Darrell Taylor’s replacement in Tennessee’s defense, and I think that’s the role he’ll probably assume. Baron is quick, especially for his size. He’s not freakishly fast, but he can certainly move. He might even be a better run stopper than pass rusher, at least based off of the skills I’ve seen on his highlight film.
Places to improve:
While I think he’ll be utilized as a potential Darrell Taylor replacement, I worry that Baron doesn’t have enough of the natural bend and quick-twitch athleticism to make him an elite pass rusher. That’s not to say he won’t be productive, but it’s just something I worry about pushing him to that next level. I also wonder how great of a fit he’ll be in a 3-4 defense. I think Baron might be better suited in a 4-3 defense as a true defensive end, but Pruitt has talked before about there not being much of a difference between an OLB and a DE in his defensive system, so maybe I’m overthinking it.
Barring injury, I think Baron has a role as a true freshman on Tennessee’s defense. The Vols haven’t had a consistent pass rusher outside of Darrell Taylor this season, and I don’t know that any of the players currently on the roster are suddenly going to develop into playing the role Taylor did (unless Roman Harrison makes a big jump, for example). Baron should see time and make an impact in his first year on campus.