2021 NFL Draft: Derrick Barnes Player Profile

Derrick Barnes NFL Draft

Derrick Barnes 2021 NFL Draft Overview

Position: EDGE
Height: 6′-1″
Weight: 245lb
School: Purdue

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Derrick Barnes 2021 NFL Draft Profile

Not many college football athletes play more than one position. Purdue’s Derrick Barnes is one of those few players up for the task.

Barnes started his NFL journey at a Holy Cross High School in Kentucky. Many noted his versatility started there since he played on both sides of the football. As a running back, he racked up 1,567 rushing yards with 22 total touchdowns on 150 rushing attempts. In his senior year in high school, his defensive skills skyrocketed as he recorded 125 tackles, three interceptions, and four fumble recoveries. After his successful year, Barnes was ranked the 122nd best linebacker in the nation as a two-star recruit. Barnes initially committed to Toledo but changed his option to Purdue at the last second.

After spending his two years at linebacker for the Boilermakers, Barnes switched to the edge in 2019 and had a successful year for the Boilermakers. He recorded 63 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, two pass deflections, and a fumble recovery. He switched back to linebacker in his senior season, which gained national attention. Barnes led the Boilermakers’ defense in tackles, finished second on the team with tackles for a loss, and recorded his only interception against Illinois. He declared for the 2021 NFL Draft after his senior year finished. His productive senior season earned him a Senior Bowl invite. According to Pro Football Network’s practice reports, Barnes exhibited great athleticism and made three tackles in the game, raising eyebrows from different teams.

Barnes finished his four-year collegiate career with 226 tackles, 25 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, one interception, three pass deflections, and a recovered fumble.


  • Versatile; plays both defensive end and linebacker;
  • Core special teams player;
  • Great tackler;
  • Good handwork;
  • Displays good speed, play strength, and explosiveness on tape;
  • Mismatch for TEs looking to block him;
  • Fills the gap well against the run.


  • Slow getting off blocks;
  • Not fluid flipping hips in coverage;
  • Undersized in comparison to NFL linebackers;
  • Slow on play diagnosis;
  • Needs to work on finesse when rushing the passer.

Projection: 5th-6th round

Player Comparison: Jonathan Bostic

Team Fits: Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans

Bottom Line On Derrick Barnes

Derrick Barnes is one of the most versatile players coming out of this draft class. Though players who play multiple positions in college are likely to switch to one at the next level, Barnes’ versatility puts him above a lot of players at both positions. With the level of strength he has, Barnes is a clear mismatch for a tight end aiming to block him in the running game. When it comes to linemen attempting to block Barnes, he converts his strength to power, in order to create a disadvantage.¬†With skills at both defensive spots, he can easily make any NFL roster as a core special teamer.

Being undersized is something players cannot change once they make the next level. However, there are certain ways players can attempt to make up for their height disadvantage. Barnes’ slow diagnosis to plays on defense could hurt him in the long run, especially when it comes to adjusting to next-level offenses. Diagnosing the play and getting off blocks are keys in the run game in football. With coaching and time, Barnes’s weaknesses can be fixed. However, if his weaknesses are not repaired, his ceiling is a core special teams player.

As a late-round pick, unless his drafting team is struck with an obscene amount of injuries, Barnes will start his career on special teams. With reps in practice and an uptick in playing time in game action, Barnes’s ceiling should heighten. Derrick Barnes has a lot of potential headed to the next level. Though good coaching overall will help Barnes with his weaknesses, a crafty defensive coordinator will play to his strengths.

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