Patriots: Belichick may have secured the steal of the NFL Draft in Christian Barmore

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The New England Patriots had one of the most opportunistic sequences to start their 2021 NFL Draft that I have seen in a while. In the first round, sitting at pick 15, Mac Jones fell to New England who scooped him up quickly after staying put during Justin Fields‘ slide. Mac had one of the best college football seasons ever for a quarterback and the Patriots got great value in their first pick.

Perhaps the bigger slide was Mac Jones’ teammate at Alabama, Christian Barmore, forcing the Patriot’s hand to trade up for him in the second round. Barmore is listed as 6’4″ and 310 pounds, ideal size for an all around defensive tackle. He also ran an absurd 4.93 40-yard dash at his pro day, which is ridiculous for a player his size. He finished his 2020 season in Tuscaloosa with a 90.0 PFF grade, tallying 8 sacks and 27 pressures in 12 games.

Barmore excelled in 2020 while facing stiff competition in the SEC. It was his first year as a fulltime starter, but that isn’t a huge knock on him as the Crimson Tide roll out NFL talent every year. He is fantastic as a pass rusher as he has long arms that he uses to fight off offensive lineman and has surprisingly quick feet for a interior defensive lineman. He is fantastic at running twists and stunts in pass situations to create chaos for opposing offensive lines. He is a very strong player who is good, not great, in the run game. He played mostly 3-tech in college, lining up shaded on the outside shoulder of the guard and inside the tackle.

So why did Barmore slip down draft boards despite being dominant in the SEC and being widely ranked as the best IDL in the draft? The story was always a bit murky. Bob Mcginn from the Athletic reported about Barmore leading up to the draft, “there are teams worrying about Barmore’s ‘resistance to coaching and structure’ and one scout said he’s not a guy who makes plays.” McGinn also added, “He’s not a finished product. Best thing he does is rush inside.”

Now some of this is certainly concerning. If there is any substance to his “resistance to coaching and structure” point, Foxboro is not the place you want to be. However, Bill Belichick is uniquely situated to make an assessment of this claim, with his close friendship with Nick Saban almost certainly being used for insight into college prospects.

The other criticism being that Barmore is, “Not a finished product” certainly has a lot more truth to it. While Barmore was and can be dominant, he showed some inconsistency through his 2020 season as well. While his 27 total pressures in 2020 are great, he had two big outlier games against Florida and Tennessee where he had 0 pressures and struggled in the run game.

Every player has off games once in a while, so take this all with a grain of salt. Also, two of the best games of his career came in the College Football Playoff against two of the best offensive line units in the country, Ohio State and Notre Dame. Here he totaled 12 of his pressures in 2 games and helped lead the Tide to another Championship. Stepping up and playing your best in big games is a huge factor when it comes to prospect evaluation.

The step up in competition is hard for every college player that comes into the league, but it seems so far that Barmore is holding his own and then some. Here are some examples from the past week or so from various Patriots beat writers.

Now a lot of the noise has come in regard to his success in 1v1 drills which don’t necessarily mean a ton in the grand scheme of things. However, what it does tell me is he is competing every day with some of the best offensive lineman in the league. It also doesn’t seem like he is being “resistant” to any coaching in Foxboro, as he is already getting some burn in 11 on 11 periods with the starting defense.

Predicting success in the NFL is very, very hard. If it was easy, we’d all be GMs and scouts. What I can say for sure is that so far, it seems like Barmore might have been the steal of the NFL draft. Belichick gets some criticism for his recent drafts and deservedly so, but it seems like he may have struck gold in the 2021 draft.

It is yet to be seen exactly where Barmore will play or what he will develop into, but a large part of that is being put in the right position by your coaches. That is something we know the Patriots can do better than anybody. Look out for big #51 when the Patriots take the field for their pre-season games.

Also be sure to check out Kevin Stone’s updates about Patriot’s training camp as he reports live from Foxboro for every practice. He is giving position previews, notes from every day and interviews with coaches and players!