Tennessee football fans will surely remember the time Derek Barnett starred in the Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol Motor Speedway. The defense’s success was helped by the 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive lineman. In 2016, the defense’s defender was the most prolific with six and a quarter sacks. Joe Douglas, Eagles vice president of player personnel, also highly praised him.
A great bender and a strong first step burst, Barnett is an asset against the run. He also has good first step burst and is capable of beating tackles with his speed and strength. He has a high football intelligence and awareness that will enable him to manage coverage responsibilities well. A quick release and great hand technique will allow him to make tackles a breeze. The NFL draft is likely to bring big things for Barnett.
After Week 5, Barnett was among Bruce Feldman’s top five Heisman Trophy candidates. Two sacks, an assist tackle for loss and a forced turnover led to a touchdown in his five tackles against Georgia. He now leads Tennessee with four sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. What makes the Vols so special? There are few other teams that have players with the same talent as the Vols.
Barnett has the same measurables and Garrett has given him a group talk from NFL execs. Barnett isn’t the only player with similar stats to Garrett, but Garrett has consistently outperformed Barnett during workouts. However, Garrett has been the more coveted player this year, and Barnett will be a better NFL player after he graduates from college. Barnett is not the top draft pick because the “experts” don’t consider many factors.
Barnett was the true freshman defensive lineman who started the season opener. He recorded three sacks and five total tackles against South Carolina. He also played a key role in helping the Volunteers reach their first bowl game. In the TaxSlayer Bowl against Iowa, Barnett recorded three sacks and recovered a fumble. In the following game against the University of Mississippi at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Barnett recorded his first career-high of four sacks.
Though Barnett is eligible to enter the NFL Draft in 2017, the Titans would do well to consider trading him. Although the Titans don’t have to make a big trade to bring Barnett in, he could still be a great fit in Knoxville. Aside from that, Barnett will be a great addition to the team and should not have a negative impact on the Titans’ draft plans.