Linebacker Derrick Barnes will enter training camp as one of two 2021 fourth-round picks on the Detroit Lions' roster -- the other being USC wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown.
St. Brown, who was taken at No. 112 overall and one spot before Barnes, has garnered more attention and subsequently has had bigger expectations placed upon his shoulders up to this point.
Yet, Barnes, a product of Purdue University, is no slouch, as evident by the numbers he put up during his time with the Boilermakers.
The 6-foot-1, 245-pounder produced 225 total tackles, including 25 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks and four passes defensed in four seasons (43 games) at Purdue.
As for his final campaign in West Lafayette, Ind., he recorded 54 total tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss, an interception and two passes defensed in just six games.
After Lions general manager Brad Holmes took Barnes at No. 113 overall, SI All Lions' Logan Lamorandier had this to say about the selection:
"In the run game, he is a very explosive downhill player. When he gets on track, he can be a missile, with some serious thumping ability. Barnes seems like a throwback-type that Detroit front-office special assistant Chris Spielman would love.
However, when in space, he still looks like an EDGE defender. Barnes struggled in the passing game in his only season as a linebacker, which should be expected. If he can get better there, this would be a steal of a pick. That’s a lot easier said than done, though.
Honestly, Lions fans may not want to hear this, but he is very similar to Jarrad Davis, in terms of style of play. However, unlike Davis, Barnes is a more reliable tackler, and wasn’t selected in the first round. When used properly, players like Barnes can look really good."
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As Lamorandier notes, Barnes has a chance to be an impact defender against the run right away -- an area, among many, in which the Lions struggled a season ago.
Just turn on the film of Jahlani Tavai and now ex-Detroit linebacker Jarrad Davis from last year, and you'll immediately realize how anemic Detroit's linebackers group was at stopping the run in 2020.
Barnes has a shot at turning around the fortunes of the Lions' run defense at least a bit in his first season in the league.
Subsequently, he could be in line for more and more opportunities at inside linebacker as the 2021 campaign progresses, while Tavai, the presumed starter at one of the two inside linebacker spots, sees his snap count decrease.
With this potential scenario taken into account, here's my projected stat line for Barnes in '21: 46 total tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss, one pass defensed and zero sacks.
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