Under normal circumstances, you would say Derek Barnett had a bad combine. But DE Derek Barnett impressed at the combine Sunday.
Tennessee DE Derek Barnett is a good player but isn’t known as a physical freak. At 6’3″, 265 pounds, he has average size for a 4-3 DE and no one expected him to run a 4.5 40. So the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine wasn’t set up to be a showcase for Barnett.
His plan for the 40-yard dash was more like a 4.7 and to show his strength, something exceptional he does have. And along with it, he’s very technically sound with all of his hand-fighting skills. Then there’s the motor that runs everyday and all day nonstop.
But when the combine came, Barnett wouldn’t be able to show what he has very well. He caught a virus that caused him to lose six pounds, because he couldn’t hold anything down. Even fluids came right back up, hopefully into something other than his hands.
So suddenly, he’s 259 pounds, smaller than average for a 4-3 DE. He surely couldn’t show off his strength because the virus made him too weak. But one thing Barnett did show was his will to compete, an intangible you don’t normally get to show at the combine.
He had a 4.88 in the 40-yard dash, a 31-inch vertical leap and a 11 foot, seven inch broad jump. For most projected high first-round picks, that’s a bad day, maybe a disaster. But since he showed the guts to compete anyway, the scouts love him.
One thing he did well Sunday was the 3-cone drill, placing fifth among all DEs. He ended up with a time of 6.96 placing him ahead of all the DEs projected to go in the first round. The 3-cone is the most important drill for a DE because it’s turning corners.
So the scouts know that even on his worse day, he can turn that corner!