The Detroit Lions may have surprised some folks when they picked Purdue linebacker Derrick Barnes in the fourth-round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but the young player has several folks in his corner already as he transitions into the NFL.
Detroit needed a linebacker to add to the mix, and while many figured they might add one quicker, Barnes still comes to the team with a great shot at making an imprint given the way folks within the organization seem to believe in him.
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Just this past week, while speaking on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Lions coach Dan Campbell discussed his draft class, and his excitement about Barnes could not be held in. As he said, the team believes that Barnes could be a foundational piece for the defense and for the roster given all he can do well.
They *love* Barnes and believe he could become a foundational piece. “He’s got so much room to grow. … He can run, he’s tough, he’s smart, 34-inch arms so he comes downhill and he can shed blocks. We all think he can grow into something special. His character reeks of success.”
— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) May 5, 2021
Barnes Compared to NFL Pro Bowl Player
Campbell isn’t the only one who loves Barnes. As soon as he was drafted, many began comparing him to other top pros at linebacker. Given that Barnes is a speedy player that flies around and packs a punch, he will add an exciting element to a Detroit defense that needed some major help on that side of the ball in 2021. The good news for Detroit? He might be the kind of player who reminds some of another successful player in the league in Demario Davis.
What a start to day 3 for the Lions. My top-ranked WR left and my top LB. Derrick Barnes is going to be a STUD. Definitely gives me some Demario Davis vibes on his tape, so no surprise Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn wanted him.
New GM Brad Holmes killing the draft
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) May 1, 2021
Davis has played in the league for the New Orleans Saints and is a player who was a 2019 All-Pro and 2020 second-team All-Pro. He also put up 922 tackles and 26.5 sacks in his career, so the Lions would love it if this comparison is true. If there’s anyone who could get Barnes into that role it’s Detroit, considering Aaron Glenn and Campbell came from the Saints.
The hope for the Lions is Barnes can develop like that for the team in the future to help turn around their linebacker group. It’s been a spot of trouble for years, and the team is counting on Barnes stepping up and stepping in big.
Barnes’ Stats and Highlights
Safe to say where folks are getting some of the elite comparisons. Barnes has been a productive player in the Big Ten, racking up 226 tackles, 25 tackles for-loss, 10.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception in his college career. The numbers paint the picture of a tackling machine and a guy who can get after it in between the lines and make big plays for a defense sideline to sideline. It will depend on how Detroit wants to use Barnes, but the talent is there.
Here’s a look at what the highlights show:
Will Barnes become a guy who turns himself into a player like Davis or another successful NFL linebacker? That remains to be seen, but it’s clear he is the kind of player that has all the tools and skills to make an impact at the next level.
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