Important Young Linebacker Called Lions’ ‘Best-Kept Secret’ on Roster

Derrick Barnes

Getty Derrick Barnes runs down Najee Harris in a 2021 game.

The Detroit Lions went a frustrating 3-13-1 in 2021, so it stands to reason how folks would not believe the team has many hidden-gem players on the roster, but it could be true given how little exposure the team receives.

Detroit’s rookie class played a huge role last season, and the hope is that the group can continue to take steps forward toward being the bedrock for the team’s future. That might be likely as it relates to one player’s fortunes if Bleacher Report is to be believed.

The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Lions!

Recently, the site named its best-kept secret players on every single roster in the league. According writer Maurice Moton, the leader for Detroit in this position is linebacker Derrick Barnes, who enjoyed a solid rookie season despite having to learn on the fly most of the year.

As Moton wrote, while Barnes struggled against the pass last season, he showed that he can be a stout player in between the tackles and potentially fill gaps in the run game for Detroit. He also made a very bold statistical prediction for the second-year player in the future.

“Barnes has a shot to rack up 100-plus tackles as a starter alongside Alex Anzalone,” Moton wrote in the piece.

Whether that will be the case in 2022 or not remains to be seen, but it’s clear that folks do believe Barnes possesses the goods to become a serious player for the team’s defense.

Barnes Needs to Step up for Lions’ Future

If there was ever a player the Lions needed to step up for their future, Barnes would be it. Whether real or imagined, at this point, the team still has a weak link at linebacker according to many folks. Detroit has not added top veterans to the position, and has instead focused on young band-aid players like Alex Anzalone and Jarrad Davis. Adding Chris Board to the position was a free agency depth play for the Lions as well, but Barnes could still have the overall lead at the spot in terms of his upside for the team given his experience within the defense.

The Lions need Barnes to fill a major gap at the position into the future and become a solid contributor if not play a starring role for a needy defense. If he does, the team could be set for the future at a key position on defense.

Barnes’ Stats & Highlights

What has been shown thus far on the field in 2021 was just what the Lions seemed to think they were getting in Barnes. Based on his track record from college, a pretty productive player. Barnes has been a productive player in the Big Ten, racking up 226 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an 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. The talent is clearly there. That only showed up more at times for the Lions when he did see the field. He put up 67 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 passes defended and 4 tackles for-loss last year.

Here’s a look at what Barnes was able to do as a rookie:

Derrick Barnes 2021-2022 HighlightsI don't own the Music/Video/Pictures in this video Derrick Barnes 2021-2022 Detroit Lions Highlights Song is Bryson Tiller – Rambo2022-01-21T16:53:12Z

Will Barnes become a guy who turns himself into a player that can stick as a successful NFL linebacker and make a major difference at the spot? That remains to be seen, but it’s clear he understands how to play the position as he comes to the league.

Thus far, Barnes has managed to show off in a big way when he has received time on the field and seems to understand the right approach off the field. That balance could lead him to indeed become one of the better players on the team, and move past a big-time secret for the roster.

READ NEXT: Mina Kimes Explains Genius of Lions’ 2022 Offseason

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x