October 13, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw (14) throws past LSU Tigers linebacker Lamin Barrow (57) during the second quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft: Pre-Season Breakdown - Lamin Barrow, OLB LSU

LSU is a football factory that constantly puts out players into the NFL, especially on defense.  Despite losing eight members of their defense to the NFL Draft, seven of them starters, the Bayou Bengals have defenders who will be in the mix for the NFL Draft this year with at least one at every level of the defense.  Lamin Barrow is an athletic outside linebacker who got his first year of starting time this past year as a junior.  He showed a lot of tools that could help him be successful going forward but his lack of experience showed and he looked uncomfortable at times.  Another year of experience in the defense should allow him to do more for the defense and they are going to need him to step up with the losses around him including Kevin Minter next to him.  Barrow contributed 52 solo tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 5 pass deflections, a forced fumble, a and recovery.

Barrow was used in a number of different roles last year predominately as a weak side linebacker but was used to cover in pass coverage, play the run, and blitz.  This year, he is going to slide over to the middle linebacker spot and replace Minter, which will come with more responsibility and expectations.  He has a lot of ability and is still a developing player so right now Barrow looks like a third day pick but if the light goes on for him and he really starts to cash in on his potential, he could be a top 100 pick and perhaps go higher in the NFL Draft.

Vitals & Build

Barrow is listed at 6’2” 232lbs but he looks bigger on the field.  He has broad shoulders and a frame that looks like adding weight should not be difficult.  Barrow is light on his feet and while he is a long strider going down the field, he has a good sense of when he needs to use shorter, choppier steps to stay in control in small areas.  He shows solid functional strength.  Athletically, he is impressive and should get better as he continues to fill out his frame, so the main focus he will have is improving his technique and getting more comfortable on the field.

Tackling

Barrow shows some ability to make good tackles but his technique is inconsistent as are his results.  He normally does a good job of wrapping up ball carriers but will occasionally shoulder bomb.  Barrow’s wrapping up is not only good for the obvious reason of making the tackle, but he has demonstrated the ability to land his hand on the football with the chance to punch it out as he seems to have long arms.  He shows some good power at times but needs to keep his legs under him and avoid lunging at plays to show it consistently as well as make the play.  Additionally, Barrow needs to keep moving his feet and getting in better position to make tackles and some of that should happen by virtue of the game slowing down some this year.

Run Support

Like with his tackling, there are some promising signs amid inconsistent results.  When he makes the right read, he comes downhill quickly and looks to make a play.  Barrow has the ability to knife into the backfield with explosiveness and make tackles for loss the times he is right.  His ability to diagnose the run is not always there and he can get caught flat footed when he misses and respond late.  Additionally, he uses his long arms and shows the ability to take on and shed blocks at times, but needs to show that ability more often.  That could be what separates him from simply being a run and chase linebacker.

Barrow has good range and can make plays all over the field in the running game but he will get caught taking some questionable angles as well as overrunning plays.  Added experience and development should help with this but all of his speed and athleticism is negated when he is not in the right spot.

Coverage

Barrow shows a lot of natural talent as a coverage linebacker and if he can refine his technique, he could really be impressive as a senior.  On pure athleticism, Barrow shows he can keep up with just about anyone as well as make quick twitch moves to maintain coverage.  There are times when Barrow shows he can stay in a player’s hip pocket and cover them stride for stride.  His natural length makes him able to reach out in front and knock down passes as well as possibly intercept his fair share.

On the other hand, Barrow looks uncomfortable in zone coverage.  He gets to his drop quickly and Barrow shows a good backpedal, but he stops his feet too often, stops moving, and gets mesmerized looking at the quarterback.  Barrow shows the ability to break on the ball well once it is in the air but he just seems to be half a beat late too often.  His speed enables him to cover a lot of ground but he needs to be more comfortable and more active in zone to make it work in his favor.  His ability in man coverage can work off of instinct quite a bit and it shows while zone requires more experience, technique and discipline, which Barrow will hopefully develop as a senior.

Pass Rush & Blitz ability

LSU likes to send most anyone they have in their arsenal on the blitz at one time or another and Barrow is no exception.  His explosiveness and speed make him a good fit in that niche and whether he is coming as a disguised blitz or they move him up on an overload, he has the athleticism to get to the quarterback.  Barrow tries too hard to win on speed and athleticism and needs to accept the fact that he is going to get blocked, but take it on, shed it, and keep going.

Some of the fact he was not able to get any sacks this past year could be blamed on his teammates up front.  Racing players Barkevious Mingo, Anthony Johnson, Bennie Logan, Sam Montgomery, and Lavar Edwards is easier said than done, so while he did not get any sacks, he did get a few hurries and tackles for loss to his credit.  With the loss of talent from last year, he may have more success sealing the deal this year and getting a few of his own, especially if he continues working to improve.

System Fit

To this point, Barrow is still somewhat raw and a moldable piece of clay but his best fit is as a weak side linebacker in the 4-3.  He has the speed and range to help in the passing game as well as natural man cover skills.  Barrow is a willing run defender and while he needs to get more consistent, he does not shy away from contact and can make plays.  He also needs to get better in zone and show he can do that reliably.

As it is, he would likely be a backup right now who contributes on special teams and could be brought in as a nickel linebacker.  If he develops, he will compete to be a starter and has the potential to be a starter at that position.  He could be brought into a 3-4 team if they want him for an inside linebacker for passing downs in coverage and if he can bulk up and gets better at shedding blocks, he could be a starter there as well.

Schedule

Sat, August 31 vs. TCU
Sat, Sept. 7 vs. UAB
Sat, Sept. 14 vs. Kent State
Sat, Sept. 21 vs. Auburn
Sat, Sept. 28 at Georgia
Sat, Oct. 5 at Mississippi State
Sat, Oct. 12 vs. Florida
Sat, Oct. 19 at Ole Miss
Sat. Oct. 26 vs. Furman
Sat, Nov. 9 at Alabama
Sat, Nov. 23 vs. Texas A&M
Fri, Nov. 29 vs. Arkansas

Notable Games

Kent State provides an interesting matchup because of the presence of Dri Archer.  While LSU will probably win the game by a good margin, Archer presents an incredibly fast and agile threat that can be a nightmare for Barrow and the LSU defense.  He will have to be smart and take good angles if he is going to catch him, assuming the Golden Flashes can block the LSU defensive line.  Mississippi State’s Ladarius Perkins is a balanced threat who can be a good runner as well as making catches out of the backfield, so Barrow should be able to show off a range of skills in Starkville.  Alabama is always a grudge match and the presence of T.J. Yeldon in the backfield is a huge challenge for Barrow and the rest of the Tigers on defense.  That will be more of a man on man strength test and taking on and shedding blocks will be at a premium.

NFL Comparison

Right now, Barrow could be a bigger version of Ernie Sims, the journeyman linebacker out of Florida State.  Sims came out of college tabbed to be the ultimate run and chase linebacker with the Lions but it never worked out that way.  While Sims is extremely athletic, he was too inconsistent making his reads and getting in the right position.  He could also make plays in coverage and be an effective coverage linebacker at times as well.  That is where Barrow finds himself going into his senior year.  He would still have a role in the NFL as Sims obviously did, but if he can develop and take the next step, he could have a much better career arc in the league.

Draft Projection

Lamin Barrow is a raw of athletic clay that got his chance to start for the Tigers as a junior.  He has a good amount of potential heading into his senior year if he makes the adjustments and can harness all of that ability and aim it the right way.  His athleticism is good enough that he could have been drafted this past year, likely on day three.  If Barrow can make that next step he could really vault himself up draft boards and make himself a household name this season like Minter did last year.  More experience will help and playing middle linebacker will put a spotlight on him, so he has a huge opportunity this year and that could definitely be reflected in his draft stock and get him into day two.

Tags: 2014 Mock Draft 2014 NFL Draft Lamin Barrow LSU Tigers Football Outside Linebackers

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