At the end of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions are going to have some major changes on the defensive side of the ball.
Needing help at linebacker, the Lions didn’t feel as if they could wait on Saturday, and struck a deal to trade up to get the guy they wanted in Purdue linebacker Derrick Barnes.
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Barnes is a speedy linebacker that flies around and packs a punch, and 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.
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 Dan 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 Related to Former NFL Star Running Back
Not only is Barnes perhaps compared to some elite talents in the league, he is also related to some. Barnes is the cousin of former NFL running back Shaun Alexander.
While Alexander is a running back, Barnes will now be in charge of chasing running backs down and blowing them up, and that’s just what he has shown the ability to do. So how important is it to have NFL bloodlines in their background? It isn’t everything, but the fact that Barnes will have someone to reach out to upon the start of this journey is huge for a young player.
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.