His power and speed around the edge are what made him a Volunteer record setter and one of the fastest-rising prospects leading up to the 2017 draft. Barnett explodes off the line with the kind of first step that gives offensive tackles the jitters. The majority of his big plays start with him leaning into and driving past his blocker, collapsing the pocket from a quarterback’s blind side, and creating chaos behind the line of scrimmage.
Barnett is also fast enough laterally to bring down ball carriers in space, frequently using his ability to identify screen plays and disrupt blockers. That athleticism, at 6’3 and 259 pounds, brings versatility as he can drop into coverage should the occasion arise. While he was a 4-3 defensive end throughout college, with some polish he could also transition as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
“Not only was Barnett a consistent threat with at least 10 sacks in all three of his years in orange, he did excellent work against Tennessee’s stiffest competition. As a freshman he benefited greatly from Curt Maggitt’s presence, but he was the primary focus of opposing offensive lines the last two years and it didn’t slow him down at all.” — Read More at Rocky Top Talk
His pass-rushing abilities made him a first-round prospect, but there are still several questions he’ll have to answer as a pro. His game is predicated on his athleticism, but an average showing at the NFL Combine suggests he could struggle against a better class of offensive linemen in the pros. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah may have said it best when it comes to Barnett’s future.