The Patriots dip into the Alabama pipeline once again by selecting defensive tackle Christian Barmore with the 38th overall pick in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
New England traded two fourth-round picks, no. 122 and no. 139, to move up eight spots to select the disruptive interior pass-rusher that lit up the College Football Playoff last January.
For those that followed my pre-draft coverage, I didn’t see Barmore as a top-20 talent. After tallying 12 quarterback pressures in the CFP, he was in the conversation at 15.
However, Barmore’s tape was hot-and-cold. There were instances against the run where he gave up ground trying to fly off the ball rather than taking on blocks with proper technique; Barmore is an attack-minded defensive tackle that isn’t your typical scheme fit for the Patriots.
Instead, the Pats get Barmore on day two, which is much better value for his immediate role that will likely be as an interior pass-rusher in the mold of free-agent departure Adam Butler.
With a more thoughtful approach to run defense, Barmore’s ceiling as an every-down defender is considerably higher than Butler’s, giving him the potential to blossom into a stud DT.
First and foremost, Barmore is a fluid mover with excellent first-step explosiveness, quick footwork to cross-up interior offensive linemen, and disruptive upper-body power to disengage.
Along with the physical tools, you’ll see throughout his film that Barmore plays from multiple alignments.
Here’s an example of Barmore’s go-to move, an arm over/swim. Using his explosiveness to threaten guards’ edges, Barmore will take a hard step off the ball at the right guard’s outside shoulder, which gets the blocker to step towards the outside. Once Barmore sees the right guard set outside, he pairs efficient footwork with a quick swim move to jump inside for a sack.
Barmore’s most consistent pass-rush moves are ones that get guards moving in the wrong direction for him to jump to the inside gap. Above, he again charges out of his stance to threaten the outside shoulder and then works inside with a shoulder-slap to beat the guard clean.
Lateral quickness on display again as Barmore jumps gaps and gets a hit on the QB. pic.twitter.com/rZhhh98jMa
— #ManFree (@ManFreeCover1) April 21, 2021
Another way Barmore consistently wins as a pass-rusher is with his lateral quickness as a slanting rusher. Barmore aligns as a five-technique over the right tackle. He jumps inside at the snap and around the right guard to register a hit on the quarterback. That’s the type of explosive movement off the ball that Barmore brings to the Pats.
Then, Barmore possesses impressive upper-body power that he’ll use to disengage from blockers. In this example, Barmore uses a push-pull or snatch move to shed the block. He explodes into the body of Buckeyes right guard Wyatt Davis, a future NFL starter, and pulls him forward to get around Davis to apply pressure up the middle on Justin Fields.
Lastly, one of Adam Butler’s best attributes as an interior rusher was his ability to occupy blockers and apply pressure as the penetrator on New England’s various stunt schemes.
Barmore has similar traits to create havoc on stunts by either occupying multiple blockers or generating pressure by himself when the interior O-Line tries to pass him off. Above, Barmore is going to slant inside to try to free up space for the wrap player. Instead, the right guard comes off Barmore while correctly ID’ing the stunt to pick up the wrap player, but Barmore goes right through the center to get into Fields’s lap.
Although his run tape is inconsistent, there are flashes of hope for Barmore’s development in that regard.
Here, Barmore is playing a slanted nose technique. Barmore shows good patience and lower-body strength, allowing the double-team to come off of him to make the stop.
Barmore was 2nd in PFF’s run stop % in ’20 & it’s because he consistently stacks, puts his eyes in his gap to deter the run, can shed & make the tackle away from his assignment. Star has been solid at run scheme recognition, but stacking, shedding & his range have diminished. pic.twitter.com/MZIwSibWeb
— #ManFree (@ManFreeCover1) April 21, 2021
In this play, he uses his upper-body strength to stack the blocker and gets his eyes through the block onto the ball. Once the running back commits, he sheds and makes the play.
The bottom line with new Patriots defensive tackle Christian Barmore is that he’s an explosive interior pass rusher that started to come into his own down the stretch last season.
According to Pro Football Focus, the former Alabama star tallied 65 quarterback pressures over the last two seasons, which led all power-five defensive tackles in that span.
Barmore gives the Pats an immediate replacement for Butler as a situational pass rusher, which is a vital role in New England’s defense that is a crucial part of their pass rush success.
If he rounds out his game, Barmore will be a three-down force in the middle of the Pats defense.