Detroit Lions 2022 player to watch: LB Derrick Barnes

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.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 17: Derrick Barnes #55 of the Detroit Lions breaks up a pass intended for Drew Sample #89 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at Ford Field on October 17, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

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.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 19: A.J. Green #18 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball against Derrick Barnes #55 of the Detroit Lions in the third quarter at Ford Field on December 19, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

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.

Fourth round draft pick, Derrick Barnes is set for a larger role with the Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions General Manager, Brad Holmes continues his purge of former Lions GM Bob Quinn’s roster. This time linebacker Jamie Collins has one foot out of town as the Lions announced they are shopping the linebacker and looking for a trade partner. Enter fourth round draft pick Derrick Barnes, the former Purdue Boilermaker is set to make a bigger impact on the Lions starting Sunday.

DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 27: Detroit Lions linebacker Derrick Barnes (55) during the Detroit Lions vs Indianapolis Colts preseason game on Friday August 27, 2021 at Ford Field in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions are not only one of, if not the youngest teams in the NFL, are set to get both younger and more athletic with Derrick Barnes in the lineup. Jamie Collins is a good linebacker, this is not a slam on him. Collins simply does not fit the vision of the Detroit Lions front office and coaching staff.

Derrick Barnes enjoyed a standout preseason. So much so that he left both fans and the Lions coaching staff to wonder what more he could offer. Now he gets his chance. It appears that Barnes will play most if not all the Lions base defensive packages. Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin will enter games in nickel situations.

Other than his speed and explosiveness to the point of contact, Barnes’ ability to drop back in coverage, is what the Detroit Lions coaching staff likes about the young Barnes who is also a film junkie, he studies opposing teams and then applies what he finds during film sessions.

For the Detroit Lions who are rebuilding, and adding more speed and athleticism to the roster, giving Derrick Barnes a chance to show what he can do in an expanded role is what is best for both player and organization.

Brad Holmes and the Detroit Lions had a very solid 2021 NFL draft. To date six players drafted have all seen playing time. This is what Holmes has been known for.

Detroit Lions linebacker Derrick Barnes (55) reacts after a play during the first half of an NFL preseason football game between the Detroit Lions and the Indianapolis Colts in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Friday, August 27, 2021. (Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

As for Derrick Barnes, his time has come. It is up to him to show he can stick in a larger role. Popular thought is he will.

Detroit Lions: the importance of Jarrad Davis

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Lions needing help at linebacker drafted Jarrad Davis out of the University of Florida in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. After an up and down rookie season,  Jarrad Davis is ready to unleash.

The 2017 NFL season saw Detroit Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis struggle in passing situations. To the point he was replaced on second and long and third down. Making him a very expensive first round draft pick. Playing only first down only at middle linebacker is a career killer.

Jarrad Davis, though fought through and improved his pass coverage and was left in games as the season was winding down. Now Detroit head coach Matt Patrica and his staff aim to get more out of the second year linebacker.

When the Detroit Lions defense lines up in the 3-4 the linebackers are the single most important unit of the field. The move up to the line of scrimmage and fill the B and D gap between the defensive linemen.

Davis had 96 tackles last season. Now more will be expected from him