The Detroit Lions front office just had to have him last year, so the team traded up and drafted linebackers Derrick Barnes out of the University of Purdue. It seemed at the time a bit of a daring move as Barnes was projected by some as a special teams player. Give Lions GM, Brad Holmes and his scouting department some credit, Derrick Barnes turned out to be better than his projection.
Derrick Barnes is one of my Detroit Lions players to watch this coming NFL season. While it is true that Barnes played with a lower snap count as a rookie last season, he did actually perform well. Barnes posted 67 tackles 4 for a loss. The coaching staff brought the linebacker along slowly mostly due to defensive scheme and substitutions.
Derrick Barnes showed quickness sideline to sideline, as well as attacking the line of scrimmage. He dropped back into zone coverage well and was able to cover both tight ends and running backs.
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell wanted and wants players who attack and are around the ball. Barnes checks those boxes. A strong argument can be made that no Lions linebacker looked better in pass coverage than Barnes, and he is a inside linebacker.
For a closer look at what the future holds for Barnes and the Lions defense, just look back at the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. In a bad loss, Derrick Barnes stood out.
With LB, Jalen Reeves-Maybin leaving via free agency the door is wide open for Barnes to earn more snaps. While the young linebacker did have some wrong reads last season he showcased enough to suggest he is ready to take the next step for the Lions this coming season.
Both Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell having talked about changing the culture in Detroit by bringing in hard nosed players who want to win. Once again Derrick Barnes checks that box.