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2017 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Could the Vol’s all-time sack leader be chasing quarterbacks for the Giants in 2017?

Tennessee v South Carolina Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Barring a stunning development between now and 8:00pm on April 27th, the New York Giants definitely will not be drafting Myles Garrett. They probably won’t be drafting Alabama’s Jonathan Allen either.

However, there is at least a chance that they could draft Tennessee’s Derek Barnett.

Barnett has seen his stock fluctuate throughout the draft process, with illness and a hamstring injury hampering his ability to work out at a high level. However, he has been one of the most productive defensive linemen in college football and has the tape of a top-20 pick.

Let’s take a closer look.



  • Very consistent pass rusher. Broke Reggie White’s collegiate sack record and had at least 10 sacks in each of his three seasons.
  • Active hands at the point of attack. Wins hand fights with linemen and gets good extension against blockers.
  • Has a solid first step as well as good short-area quickness and agility.
  • Good flexibility and bend for his size and build.
  • Capable of dropping into coverage on zone blitzes.
  • Plays with an edge. Gives great effort and will pursue through the whistle.
  • Made plays despite being Tennessee’s only real defensive threat.


  • “Only” 6’3”, and his arms are a bit short. Doesn’t have the length some teams love (or require).
  • Speed is a question. Will pursue tenaciously, but can get out-run.
  • Has a good pass rushing arsenal, but could use a “strikeout” counter move.

Does He Fit With The Giants?

Barnett might not exactly fit the physical mold the Giants like for their defensive ends, but he is a great fit in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.

Able to play either side, he could immediately contribute by spelling JPP or Olivier Vernon and contributing on pass rushing downs as an edge rusher or rushing from the inside. His ability to drop into coverage or rush as a linebacker fits well with Spags’ blitz-heavy and “multiple” front scheme.

Barnett isn’t as flashy as some of the other defensive end or edge rusher prospects, but he is well-rounded and his game doesn’t really have a weakness.

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - 20th overall

CBS Sports - 8th overall

Draft Countdown - 29th overall

Draft Tek - 7th overall

Final Thoughts

Derek Barnett isn’t flashy. He doesn’t have the physical upside of Myles Garrett or the dominating tape of Jonathan Allen. He’s the type of defensive end who does everything well, does his job every snap, and forces the lineman who lines up across from him to pack a lunch and work to keep him from wrecking the offense all game long.

Barnett might not have any dominating traits, although his quickness and agility are definitely impressive for someone his size, but he does just about everything well. He routinely gives blockers all they can handle -- and then some. He had at least one sack in nine of his last 10 games, and at least one tackle for loss in 22 of 26 games over the last four years, regardless of the level of competition. Barnett might not get the recognition he deserves on the national level, but he lived in opponent’s backfields the last two years.