Finding Broncos: Scouting Tennessee Defensive End Derek Barnett

Senior Draft Analyst Erick Trickel returns to break down one of the premier edge players in the 2017 NFL Draft class.

Derek Barnett, Defensive End, Tennessee Volunteers

Combine Measurements

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 259 pounds

Arms: 32-1/8 inches

Hands: 10 inches

Combine Results

40-Yard Dash: 4.88 seconds

Vertical Jump: 31 inches

Broad Jump: 117 inches

3-Cone Drill: 6.96 seconds

20-Yard Shuttle: 4.44 seconds






Year Tackles TFL Sacks  PD FF FR
2014 73 20.5 9 0 0 1
2015 69 12.5 10 1 1 1
2016 56 19 13 1 5 3


Excellent hand use and technique. Fluid enough to play in coverage in zone concepts. Elite production. Crushing sacks and tackles. Hustle player.

Really good awareness of the play and goings on around him. Times his swats well to avoid blockers punches. Good sync between his upper and lower body.

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Attacks edges with proper lean and balance. Wants to make the play. Can crash down the line when attacking gap concept runs. Good understanding and use of leverage to stop blockers redirection attempts.


Slow starter to games and the season. Overthinks. Lacks a counter move when rushing which leads to him circling back to the quarterback. Lacks the same twitch in his feet that he has in his hands.

Can’t redirect offensive linemen out of the way. Undisciplined snap-guesser. No quick change of direction ability. Lacks lane discipline and left open lanes for more mobile quarterbacks to escape through.

Footwork is just average and technique is sub-par outside of his hands. Can’t win if he doesn’t do it with his hands. Lacks a great first step. Leaves himself vulnerable to cut blocks. Concern over length.



Derek Barnett has some of the best hands in this draft. His technique is great and he can consistently win with them. However, he lacks much else to go with it.

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He is just an average athlete that lacks the technique elsewhere to win when he doesn’t win with his hands. There also isn’t a lot of moves to his pass rush, but he still had outstanding production.

He can come in and play right away and do well against the run and win rushing with his hands, but to be a long term starter he will need to add more to his game.

Fit With The Broncos

Barnett is better with his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 defensive end. However, he is fluid enough to stand up as a rush linebacker in a 3-4 front. He also has ability to drop into zone coverage, which you want from your rush linebackers, despite them being the main pass rushers.

Barnett would step in as the No. 3 pass rusher behind Shane Ray and Von Miller, but it would keep their great depth for the position. Also depending the circumstances, Barnett can step inside and blitz from there or handle some zone coverage responsibilities.

Draft Grade: Round 1 (late), Round 2 (early)

Where He Goes: Round 1 (mid/late)

Erick Trickel is the Senior Draft Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ErickTrickel.

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