The Purdue Boilermakers had linebacker Markus Bailey drafted in the seventh round last year. In the 2021 NFL Draft, Derrick Barnes has the potential to be drafted higher than that. How high could he go, and what does he bring to an NFL team?
Derrick Barnes NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Linebacker
- School: Purdue
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’0 3/8″
- Weight: 238 pounds
- Wingspan: 81 5/8″
- Arms: 33″
- Hands: 9 3/4″
Tony Pauline’s Derrick Barnes Scouting Report
Positives: Underrated linebacker who plays with a vicious attitude. Displays a good head for the ball, is effective in pursuit, and chases hard to make plays on the ball handler. Moves well laterally, gets out to the flanks, and is rarely off his feet. Uses his hands to protect himself, easily changes direction, and has a closing burst. Wraps up tackling and brings down bigger ball handlers or tight ends in space. Fires up the field, defeats blocks, and is a devastating run defender.
Negatives: Lacks height and may be tapped out physically. Not fluid flipping his hips in transition with tight ends or running backs in coverage.
Analysis: Barnes is one of the most underrated linebackers in the draft and is a forceful run defender who can also be used in zone coverage. He’ll be a Day 3 steal and offers scheme versatility as well as starting potential at the next level.
Derrick Barnes Player Profile
Purdue linebacker Derrick Barnes began his journey to the NFL Draft playing high school football in Kentucky. The versatile athlete played both sides of the ball for Holy Cross High School. An impressive ball carrier, he racked up 1,567 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns on 150 carries as a senior running back. He also contributed 3 touchdowns as a kick returner.
However, it was on the defensive side of the ball that he excelled. In his final year at Holy Cross, he demonstrated his tackling ability with 126 tackles, while exhibiting football intelligence and playmaking skills with 3 interceptions and 4 fumble recoveries.
His escapades on the football field earned him AP All-State Second Team honors. Furthermore, he was recognized by opposition coaches with the Class 2A District Player of the Year award.
Despite his success for Holy Cross, he wasn’t recognized nationally. A two-star recruit, he was ranked as the 2,697th player in the nation, and just the 122nd ranked linebacker.
After committing early to Toledo, Barnes announced his commitment to Purdue at the very last minute. He had been recruited by Jeff Brohm while he was the head coach at Western Kentucky. Brohm’s arrival at Purdue in 2017, however, was seen as one of the major contributing factors to Barnes’ last-minute commitment flip.
Derrick Barnes’ college career at Purdue
He started two games at linebacker for Purdue in his freshman season. Meanwhile, he appeared in 12 total games and gained valuable experience on special teams. During that 2017 season, he made at least one tackle in seven different games. Early highlights included a forced fumble and a season-high 5 tackles against Missouri.
Missouri would feel his wrath in a sophomore season where he started 12 games. He set a career-high 13 tackles against the Tigers as a part of a year that saw him rank third on the team in total tackles. Barnes also contributed 8 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. Despite a heavy defeat to Auburn in the Music City Bowl, he impressed with 3 tackles for loss.
Although 2019 saw a second consecutive losing season for the Boilermakers, Barnes continued to improve
As a junior, Barnes logged 63 tackles, including 11 for loss. With 7.5 sacks, he shared the team lead for sack production. Furthermore, he highlighted his ability to disrupt the opposing offense with a forced fumble and recovery against Wisconsin.
In the shortened 2020 college football season, the Purdue linebacker emerged as a leader on the team. He led the team in tackles, was second in tackles for loss, and secured his one and only career interception against Illinois. Following the conclusion of the season, Derrick Barnes declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
His performances in 2020 attracted national attention and earned him an invite to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl. After displaying decent athleticism for his size — as per Pro Football Network’s Senior Bowl practice reports — during the week, he had 3 tackles in the game to give NFL teams something to think about at the linebacker position.
Derrick Barnes’ best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Purdue linebacker Derrick Barnes offers a pass-rushing threat in the 2021 NFL Draft. He has demonstrated during his Purdue career that he can impact the game in the opposition’s backfield.
He has also demonstrated decent coverage ability, while his experience playing special teams for the Boilermakers will only add value to his stock. Furthermore, that could give him an advantage over some other linebacker prospects in the Day 3 range.
Potential landing spots based on his skill set and team need include the Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.