One of fastest rising LB in 2021 draft is @BoilerFootball Derrick Barnes. Showed edge rush ability as junior with 7.5 sacks and SL-to-SL speed playing off the ball this year. @derrickbarnes21 also had some good coverage reps for 245-lber at Senior Bowl with his reactive trigger. pic.twitter.com/ZRouUoxD7D— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 15, 2021
Barnes, a former 2* linebacker out of Holy Cross High School in Louisville, Kentucky was a last minute addition to Purdue’s 2017 class. Coach Brohm and Holt scouting him while they were coaching at Western Kentucky and decided to roll the dice on the lightly recruited Barnes out of the Bluegrass State.
Their gamble has paid off handsomely. Barnes has been a staple in the Purdue defense over the last 4 seasons and has done a little bit of everything for the Boilermakers.
Barnes started his Purdue career as a special teams ace in 2017. He contributed 17 tackles, mainly on kick coverage teams, and had a few big hits.
He moved to middle linebacker in 2018 and finished 3rd on the team in tackles with 92, including 8 tackles for loss and 3 sacks.
In 2019 he moved to a stand up defensive end position, This move reduced his tackle number, but boosted his tackles for loss and sacks. Barnes ended the season with 63 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks.
In his final season, Barnes moved back to linebacker and led the Boilermakers in tackles with 54 total tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss in the Covid shortened season.
Needless to say, Barnes is a recruiting success story for the Boilermakers, and one I would love to see replicated in the future. He came in as an overlooked recruited and finished up his career as a team leader and legit NFL draft prospect.
I see a few linebackers with similar physical attributes on the current roster and would love to see guys like Jacob Wahlberg, Kydran Jenkins, Ben Kreul, and incoming freshman Tristan Cox get a chance to grow on the field like Barnes. I know everyone, including Coach Brohm, is talking about the transfer portal, but I see some solid talent already on the roster ready to be tapped.
Barnes is the perfect example of what can happen when a guy you recruit gets on the field, learns the game during live action, and ends up as a 3 season stalwart. I know people clamor for the next best thing coming off another roster, but I hope coach Lambert better utilizes the players that have been waiting for their chance at linebacker. You’re probably going to have to live with a few mistakes early on, but in the long run, developing guys like Barnes is a huge chip to play on the recruiting trail, above and beyond the obvious on-field benefit.
Derrick has truly maximized his potential at Purdue and it looks like he’s going to cash in on his hard work in a big way in the NFL draft. I hope to be writing about a few more underrated Boilermakers making big moves in the near future.