With Amon-Ra St. Brown going one pick before him, Derrick Barnes may forever be known as the "other" fourth-round of the Detroit Lions in the 2021 NFL Draft. A tepid start to his NFL career, as he made the full-time transition to linebacker, hasn't helped.
But Barnes has carried a strong offseason right into the 2023 season, starting all four games so far while playing 60 percent of the defensive snaps and putting rookie Jack Campbell into a different role in the Lions' defense. But the collective effort has been great, with the league's top run defense and 12 sacks over the last two games. Barnes has played a central role.
Over the 2018 and 2019 seasons at Purdue as an edge rusher, Barnes had 19.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. Over the last two games this season, he has sprinkled in some pass rushing snaps with four quarterback pressures over 16 reps.
On Monday, via Ben Raven of MLive, Barnes noted the text he sent to his wife about being able to rush the passer a little again.
" I get to rush! I get to stop the run, and I get to go after the quarterback on third down!’”
Patience with Derrick Barnes is paying off for the Lions
Earlier this season, Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn noted how things have come together for Barnes.
"Just like I told you. I was excited about the player and what he showed on tape, what he did in the game, exactly who he is,” “And everybody’s different. Every player is different and sometimes it takes a player a year, sometimes you can come off the box ready to go and sometimes it may take you three years. The thing is we saw a player in Barnes and that’s starting to show up in the games.”
The linebacker position has quickly become a position of strength for the Lions. Barnes' development into one of central players in the defensive turnaround might be below the radar, but it should not be,