2014 NFL Draft: Pre-Season Breakdown – Calvin Barnett, DT Oklahoma State


Nov 10, 2012; Stillwater OK, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith (12) is tackled by Oklahoma State Cowboys defensive tackle Calvin Barnett (99) during the first quarter at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma State Cowboys defense features a talented junior college transfer in Calvin Barnett.  Entering the program as a junior, Barnett gave their defensive line some added athleticism along the line both as a 3-tech defensive tackle in even fronts and as both a nose guard and 5-tech end in odd man looks.  While Barnett flashed a lot of talent, he was inconsistent and contributed 24 solo tackles, 9 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.

As can happen with players who transfer from the junior college level, Barnett showed impressive talent but when he wore down, he could not simple rely on the fact he was a stronger, more talented athlete and opponents were able to take advantage and create plays against him.  Having a year under his belt to get acclimated to level of competition should make a big difference this year and he could make a significant jump in production as a result.  If Barnett can get more consistent with his motor, his leverage and continue to improve his hand use, he can be a real asset as a defensive lineman at the next level and warrant a top 100 pick, but right now, he seems to be a day three pick as a rotational player based on his tape last year.

Vitals & Build

Barnett is listed at 6’2” 300lbs and he is extremely athletic in stretches.  Not only does he flash power but his explosiveness and speed can be tough to counter.  He wears down with a motor that runs hot and cold and loses his technique as a result which needs to improve, but the other problem that he runs into is a lack of balance.  He ends up on the ground too much which makes him unable to contribute.  In addition to improving his motor and stamina, Barnett still has the frame to continue adding strength and if he can do that while maintaining his athleticism, he can be a terrific athlete going into the NFL.

Snap Anticipation & First Step

Everything seems to depend on how fresh Barnett is at a given time.  When he is fresh and his motor is running, he gets off the snap quickly with a good first step and is immediately shooting a gap or going with a bull rush.  The times when he is tired or worn down, he tends to be late and his step is slower.  In addition, he comes off too high and makes him a large target for opponents to block.

Block Shedding

Barnett is not terribly nuanced when it comes to defeating blocks.  He tends to shoot gaps and try to get in the hole where opponents cannot take him head on and he can disrupt plays.  As a result, Barnett ends up being far more effective against the run than he does the pass because when opponents are attacking forward and shoots past them, they cannot adjust and correct.  In pass plays, while he can shoot gaps, he tends to struggle finishing the job and opponents are able to recover and shield him off from the play.

When going head on at the opponent, Barnett tends to opt for a bull rush and try to get the opponent off balance.  At that point, he will try to finish them with the bull rush or opt for a push pull move.  Beyond that, his hands are not terribly active and he needs to do more in terms of hand usage, hand fighting, and defeating blocks.  If he can add to his array of moves to defeat opponents on the block, he will make far more plays and finish more of the plays he could be in position to make.

Run Stopping

Barnett is a far more effective run stopper than pass rusher because he is so quick and is able to shoot gaps and defeat opponents with speed and quickness.  When they come forward and he is able to slip past them, and either make the play in the backfield or severely alter the path of the ball carrier.

Barnett is also able to flash an ability to catch opponents with a quick first step and drive them into the backfield with power.  If he can push pull, he can close on the ball carrier and make a play, but he is at least able to force the runner to avoid and change course to get around him.  If he can do more to defeat blocks, he can be more viable with his power, but it is something he should use to keep opponents honest with his quickness.

When Barnett wears down, he fires out too tall and he loses his power.  The result is not only bad leverage but he goes from someone who can surprise opponents with quickness to being a glorified sled, who struggles to hold up at the point of attack.  Worse, he ends up on the ground far too much which is something else he really needs to improve upon as when he goes down, he cannot even take up space.

Pass Rushing

Barnett has the speed, quickness, and strength to be an effective pass rusher but because of his struggles to defeat blocks, he was only able to get one sack last season.  Purely on his athleticism alone, it would seem as though as he should have had more, but because pass blockers are going back as opposed to forward, they are able to recover to his speed to shoot gaps.  If he can improve his hand use and shed better, he could be a player that has half a dozen sacks or more this coming season.

The Oklahoma State defense uses Barnett as an end in a three man front.  While he has the speed and explosiveness inside, he is somewhat exposed on the outside as he comes out too tall and his struggles to shed make him ineffective for the most part.  Barnett needs to come out with better leverage and hit opponents with a rising blow.  When he comes out too tall, he is unable to use all of his physical talents and combining that with the fact he really only uses power moves, the results are mediocre at best.

If Barnett can fire out with better leverage and employ more technique, he can be more viable as an end but he will always be best suited to play inside as a tackle.  As a pass rusher, he will occasionally end up on the nose and they will loop him on a stunt.  Barnett needs to come at a much better angle and reduce the arc in his stunt as he ends up way too wide and takes himself out of the play.  The other area he can improve is rounding lower to the ground so he can turn more effectively.

There is a lot to work with for Barnett in terms of what he can do as a pass rusher, but he needs to improve his technique substantially and just come out with a lower pad level.  How much of that can be improved in his senior year remains to be seen, but even if he can only improve in one or two areas, it could have a dramatic impact on his stock as well as his effectiveness for Oklahoma State.

System Fit

Based on what he has done to this point, Barnett is best suited to be a 4-3 defensive tackle in a rotation.  He can help on the run but he might be best suited to be a rotational pass rusher.  While that might seem counter intuitive based on what he has done, he will likely have more trouble winning battles in the trenches in the NFL as a run defender than he has had in college.  The improvement Barnett needs to make will make him more viable as a pass rusher quicker than it will a run defender but he does have the upside to be an instant impact player and perhaps a starter out of the gate with a big step forward as a senior.


Sat, Aug. 31vs. Mississippi State
Sat, Sept. 7at University of Texas-San Antonio
Sat, Sept. 14vs. Lamar
Sat, Sept. 28at West Virginia
Sat, Oct. 5vs. Kansas State
Sat, Oct. 19vs. TCU
Sat, Oct. 26at Iowa State
Sat, Nov. 2at Texas Tech
Sat, Nov. 9vs. Kansas
Sat, Nov. 16at Texas
Sat, Nov. 23vs. Baylor
Sat, Dec. 7vs. Oklahoma

Notable Games

The opener against Mississippi State is big for the Cowboys but also for Barnett.  Depending on where he is lined up, he could have a number of snaps against the Bulldog Bulldozer, Gabe Jackson and it will match power against speed and quickness in Barnett.  The game against Baylor will have Barnett likely facing Cyril Richardson a decent amount and the style of the Bears and Richardson is a good matchup for Barnett.  Lastly, the last home game for Barnett is against their instate rival, Oklahoma.  The Sooners have a strong interior line anchored by Gabe Ikard, their talented center.

NFL Comparison

Barnett’s game could wind up looking similar to that of Devon Still of the Cincinnati Bengals.  Still had a big jump from his sophomore to junior year and that could be how Barnett jumps this year.  If it clicks for him, he could be a terrific player for Oklahoma State like Still was for Penn State.  Still was selected as a second round pick and inserted as part of a defensive line rotation.  Entering his second year with the Bengals with increased strength and size, he could be primed to take a big step forward and that could be the path Barnett ends up taking in the NFL.

Draft Projection

The adjustment from JUCO to big time college football can be a difficult one and while Barnett clearly has the talent, his results were inconsistent.  Barnett flashed the ability to be an impact player but he was too streaky and when he is bad, he is really bad.  Much can be improved with a better motor and more stamina, but he can also improve his consistency with his pad level and how he takes on blocks.  If Barnett can make those improvements, he could go from a day three prospect and rotational player to a day two player who might be able to start.  Barnett might be a player who really shows well in the postseason All-Star circuit as that might be the time where he really finds his legs as a player and makes some large strides.