Scouting Report: Derek Barnett

Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

6’3 270 lbs

Barnett

Tape Viewed: 2015 vs. Alabama, 2016 vs. Alabama, 2016 vs. Texas A&M, 2016 vs. Florida

OVERVIEW

Barnett is bizzare to watch play. At times, he looks sluggish beyond belief and yet covers ground quickly. At times he looks like he’s carrying way too much weight on that relatively small (for the position) frame. And yet, you see this outstanding quickness, hand fighting ability, bend around the edge and excellent finish that have made him a premiere sack specialist in the SEC.

Derek Barnett also boasts the experience and consistency against top level competition, at times taking over the entire game against Alabama’s Cam Robinson (also a potential first-rounder). This is the one question mark in Myles Garrett’s game, so it’s certainly encouraging to see Barnett thrive regardless of who he’s lined up against.

PASS RUSH

Moves: 2 out of 5

It seems that this is the area on tape, consistently, where Barnett shows a lack of versatility. He’s pretty much just a finesse rusher, using superior agility and hand fighting to weave his way through lineman. He must add more to the arsenal at the next level.

Technique: 14 out of 15

Of this, Barnett may be among the cleanest in the draft, his hand use, footwork and control of his body allow him to consistently put himself in the correct positions and gain advantages on his opponents where sheer athleticism would seem to indicate that he should be less effective.

Bend: 4 out of 5

This is one of the biggest reasons Barnett was the leading sack specialist in his three-season span in the SEC. He has that uncanny ability to contort his body in any way to get around the edge, and also the knowledge of exactly when to do this for optimal opportunity at the QB. The one concern I’d have here is that he tends to round out his rush at times, though this is only a problem on a few snaps on tape.

Finish: 5 out of 5

This is the other aspect that leads to those insane sack numbers, Barnett knows what to do when he gets home, it’s a sack, a tackle, in fact he had a play where he tipped a pass to himself for an interception. If Barnett is near to making a play, it’s a safe bet he’ll make it.

Tenacity: 4 out of 5

Not to say that Barnett ever takes plays off, on the contrary, he’ll chase across formation when the play is moving away from him, but he seems to realize he doesn’t have the speed to catch plays that go beyond him, and he often doesn’t try.

Consistency: 10 out of 10

What more can you say for a man who has averaged 10+ sacks per season in his 3 years as a starter against the top-level competition he faces playing in college football’s premiere conference? He’s rock solid steady.

RUN STOPPING

Edge Setting: 8 out of 10

The only times I really see this to be an issue is when the play calls for a pass rush, his quickness and anticipation gets him upfield early and can sometimes take him out of running plays.

Tackling: 9 out of 10

While not a perfect tackler, there are very few discernable issues in positioning, technique, want-to or ability to bring down any ball carrier that comes his way. He’ll continue to develop that consistency at the next level and should be among the league’s most reliable.

Double Teams: 3 out of 5

I wouldn’t say that Barnett lacks the functional strength to hold up in double teams, but he does seem to lack the desire to use it, this is shown by his distinct lack of a bull rush, however, he is quite effective at using his finesse to work through double teams and make plays on ball carriers.

Lane Discipline: 10 out of 10

Barnett is as smart and pro-ready as any evaluator could dream in terms of his ability to see offensive plays developing and put himself in the right position to leverage the play to his advantage.

Consistency: 10 out of 10

Honestly, Barnett never looks to be out of position, or tired, or overwhelmed by level of competition and this quality extends to his run defense.

GENERAL

Reliability: 9 out of 10

Though perfectly available throughout his college career, Barnett has been limited in recent weeks (going into his pro day) with a hamstring injury. He is expected to perform regardless, and that’s been Barnett’s MO as a player, but going forward, teams will need to be aware of that potential and keep him in the ice bath after games.

Total Prospect Rating: 89 out of 100

Pro Comparison: Trent Cole, DE, Indianapolis Colts

Barnett 1

Cole

Sharing nearly the exact same dimensions, elite hand and foot technique, ability to get after the quarterback and penchant for punishing hits once they arrive, the comparison came to me pretty immediately. Cole has been an underappreciated impact rusher for most of his career, who boasts an all-around game that suits him to any defense. The kind of skills that Barnett boasts should give him similar versatility. I expect Barnett to get off to a quicker start than Cole, who took a few years before he became elite, production-wise.

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Scouting Report: Solomon Thomas

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Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

6’3 273 lbs.

Thomas

Tape Viewed: 2016 vs. Kansas State, 2016 vs. Arizona, 2016 vs. Colorado, 2016 vs. North Carolina

 

OVERVIEW

Solomon Thomas stands out for his versatility, tenacity, quickness and sound hand usage. He’s also, by all indications, a fantastic guy with great work ethic that would fit in well in most locker rooms. He’s lacking the height that would ideally couple with a 270 pound frame on a defensive end which has caused some teams to view him as a tweener prospect.

None of that will matter once he hits training camp though, it will be clear immediately once the pads come on what kind of incredible prospect Thomas is. He could just be scratching the surface of his potential as he continues to learn the position on the edge.

He lacks the ideal bend that elite prospects have, but makes up for it with outstanding understanding of what an offense wants to do. This is on display against North Carolina as he tears up field towards Trubisky but pulls up on a dime and stops the screen back for no gain.

 

PASS RUSH

 

Moves: 5 out of 5

Rip and swim moves are Thomas’ bread and butter. The more tape I watched though, the more I saw him attack different opponents with different plans. He sometimes employed spin moves (to great effect) sometimes opted for straight up bull rushes, and sometimes he’d even win (both inside and outside) with his outstanding explosiveness on a speed rush.

 

Technique: 13 out of 15

The name of Thomas’ game is technically sound. He plays under control at all times, with nearly elite hand usage. He loves punching lineman away, which makes sense as he developed his game in the boxing ring. However, he can sometimes get his feet tangled and he’s still learning how to play on the outside as he lined up at 4-3 DT so much for Stanford.

 

Bend: 2 out of 5

This is the one area that will likely hold teams back from drafting Thomas in the Top 10, if they envision as a 4-3 DE. He doesn’t show natural ability to bend around tackles, and doesn’t even seem to understand how to do this. He tried once that I saw on tape, and it was almost hilariously bad. However, his balance and athleticism would suggest that he has potential to develop in this part of his game.

 

Finish: 4 out of 5

There are some frustrating misses for Thomas on tape, but they’re few and far between. In particular, one play in the Arizona game where he did a spin move to the inside, then chased the quarterback all the way to the sideline to force the incompletion shows Thomas’ ability to affect the game other than on the stat sheet.

 

Tenacity: 4 out of 5

Ordinarily, you will see Thomas showing off his exceptional motor straight to the whistle. But he also seems to have an understanding of when to turn the jets off since he can no longer affect the play. Because of this, sometimes he’s wrong and gives up on plays too quickly.

 

Consistency: 10 out of 10

What you see is what you get with Thomas on any given down. He’s an above average pass rusher that tries really hard and is physically intimidating.

 

RUN STOPPING

 

Edge Setting: 6 out of 10

Often on tape, Thomas shows his inexperience in this aspect, allowing lanes to form as he has the wrong leverage, however, there are some flashes that show his potential in the pros.

 

Tackling: 9 out of 10

Thomas misses some tackles, but very few, and even when he misses, he’s almost always a part of the reason the play ends prematurely. Besides that, he’s vicious, and delivers some serious body slams. A play early in the North Carolina game shows this aspect of his game quite brilliantly.

 

Double Teams: 4 out of 5

Thomas has the functional strength, leverage, and balance to consistently take on double teams through the whistle, though it would be nice to see him make more plays when he gets the extra attention.

 

Lane Discipline: 9 out of 10

On tape, there are some exceptional plays that show just how deep an understanding Thomas has of lane discipline and how to properly set up a team defense, and then there are plays like the one against Kansas State where he allows the QB to scoot right by him untouched for a 20 yard gain. Those are rare.

 

Consistency: 9 out of 10

I’ve seen on nearly every report of Thomas that he’s an outstanding run defender, PFF graded him number one among draft eligible players in fact. However, I do see times where his play falls off, particularly when he’s receiving extra attention or being stretched horizontally.

 

GENERAL

 

Reliability: 10 out of 10

Thomas is as rock solid as it gets. Seems to have the mentality any NFL GM would love. No character issues or injury question marks to speak of.

 

Total Prospect Rating: 85 out of 100

 

Pro Comparison: Michael Bennett, DE, Seattle Seahawks

Rice Stanford Football

Bennett

Though a lofty comparison for a player that hasn’t played a single down in the NFL, there really isn’t another player in the NFL that has the quickness and inside pass-rush ability, mixed with effective run defense like Bennett. Bennett has found a perfect niche as the designated Swiss army knife in Seattle’s defense, and has become one of the league’s best. I believe Thomas has that level of ability, but must find the right role to maximize  his potential. To me, a lot like Bennett, he’s a high floor high ceiling player.

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