Instant Reaction: Patriots Land Top DT In the Draft

The New England Patriots made an aggressive move early in Round 2 to secure the top defensive tackle in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Publish date:

For years now, the New England Patriots have lacked a true source of middle-of-the-pocket pressure. They might finally have their answer, and his name is Christian Barmore.

Back in January, I was vocal about the possibility of both Barmore and Jones becoming Patriots come April:

2021 is quickly cementing itself as the "year of the rotund Alabama prospect" for New England Patriots fans. Alabama defensive lineman Christian Barmore has emerged in discussions as a potential first-round pick for the Patriots, alongside his college quarterback, Mac Jones.

The truth is that Barmore is... good... and that's it. He's certainly not the elite defensive lineman prospect that New England needs, but he seems to have enough tools to become a starter-quality player in the league. While he may not be worth a round one pick, he can certainly be a value pick on Day 2 of the draft.

Read More: Scouting Report: Is Christian Barmore Worth the Hype?

As predicted, 2021 really did become the "year of the rotund Alabama prospect," and Barmore did turn out to be a high-value Day 2 pick. While I remain consistent in my initial assessment of Barmore as a prospect, I've become more optimistic about his upside over the last few months. He could not only be a starter-quality player, but a true Pro-Bowl level player with the right development. 

Throughout the draft process, Barmore stood out as the consensus No. 1 defensive tackle, partially because of his upside, and in great part due to the overall weakness of the class. 

As it stands, Barmore is somewhat  raw and inconsistent as a prospect. However, his tape showed flashes of excellence, and Barmore showed the tools to become a truly formidable three-down presence in the trenches. 

So ... Why Barmore?

Simply put, Barmore is Bill Belichick's replacement (and potential upgrade) for Adam Butler.

Barmore is a pass-rushing demon. In 2021, he posted an incredible 91.5 pass rush grade and 19.5% pass-rush win rate, according to Pro Football Focus. 

At his best, he is able to consistently compress and penetrate the pocket, especially from a 3-technique alignment. His pass rushing arsenal includes a variety of nifty moves, including rips, chops, and swims. Additionally, Barmore showed a strong ability to produce on stunts, which is an especially valuable trait in the New England front seven.

One of Barmore's most impressive traits is his sudden direction change from lateral to vertical. His film showed a strong "vertical" mindset; even while setting up offensive linemen with lateral moves, he doesn't waste any time turning horizontal pass rush movement into vertical penetration.

Barmore's hand usage and placement showed some semblance of polish as well, as he was consistently able to get hands inside and use synchronized hand-footwork to clear linemen.

Lastly, one of Barmore's best intangible traits in college was his incredible knack for showing up in big moments; he saved his best production for Alabama's biggest games, including the National Championship.

Potential Cons

By far the most glaring weakness in Barmore's game is his lack of anchor against the run. With the Patriots struggling to stop power runs down the gut, this pick begins to look slightly questionable in light of Barmore's inability to reset the line of scrimmage.

Part of his surprising weakness may be due to high pad level, which would be a relatively straightforward technique fix. 

Further regarding a lack of power, Barmore never showed off a true bull-rush move, which is generally a staple of a big pocket-compressing interior defensive lineman. 

Final Thoughts

Barmore likely will make his Patriots debut exclusively in pass rushing packages as a 3-technique. As his role expands and he develops as a run stuffer, he has upside as a potentially great three-down 3-technique who can both compress the pocket and suffocate the A and B gaps against both man and zone runs. 

While Round 1 would have been a reach, Barmore as a Round 2 pick is excellent value. This is a classic Belichick high-risk, high-reward pick that, at its best, could give New England an elite agent of chaos in the trenches for years to come.