Barnett, a former Tennessee defensive end, now ranks as the third-best overall prospect in this year’s class, according to the updated rankings from Pro Football Focus. Barnett ranked behind only Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett and Alabama DL Jonathan Allen.
“Athletically, Barnett is the antithesis of Garrett. Production-wise, he’s the only player in the class that can compare to Garrett over the course of their careers,” PFF’s Mike Renner wrote. “Barnett’s 37 combined sacks and hits this past season were far and away the most in college football. He also has 20 total sacks in SEC play the past two seasons.”
It’s a meteoric rise for Barnett after some questioned whether his game would translate to the NFL. Even considering recent projections that had him going in the early 20s in the first round, No. 3 overall might be his best evaluation yet.
PFF’s rankings aren’t a mock draft. It’s not a projection that Barnett will be a top-3 pick. But it is an endorsement of Barnett as one of the top players in the draft.
Like many people, Renner said his chief concern with Barnett is a lack of “top-tier athleticism.” But because of Barnett’s pass rushing style, it may not even matter.
Barnett broke Reggie White’s school record for career sacks in December, getting his 33rd against Nebraska in the Music City Bowl. He had 13 sacks last season and 20 tackles for loss.