Lions linebacker Derrick Barnes seems ready to make Year 2 leap

SideLion Report

The Lions surely want to see it, and linebacker Derrick Barnes seems ready to step up in Year 2.

When the Detroit Lions drafted Derrick Barnes in the fourth round in 2021, he was a raw linebacker prospect who had played a lot of defensive and at Purdue.

While his production wasn’t awful as a rookie (67 total tackles, two sacks, four tackles for loss), consistency was a thing and for what it’s worth Pro Football Focus graded Barnes as a bottom-10 linebacker among those with the snaps to qualify (h/t to MLive).

On Wednesday, head coach Dan Campbell noted Barnes and running back Jermar Jefferson as two second-year players who have stood out.

Campbell has addressed the importance to the team’s success that last year’s rookie class makes a “Year 2 leap” this year, so his mentions of Barnes and Jefferson feels notable.

On SiriusXM with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan Wednesday, general manager Brad Holmes also noted Barnes’ growth (h/t to Pride of Detroit for the quote).

That (jump) has been extraordinary,” Holmes told SiriusXM’s Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Wednesday. “He just knows what’s going on now. Last year as a rookie, he had one year under his belt playing at inside linebacker position. Now he knows what he’s doing, he’s much better in communication.”

Derrick Barnes sounds ready to make a Year 2 jump

Barnes spoke to the media after Thursday’s practice. He professed his love for Campbell, based on a clip of a team meeting that has been put out as a teaser for “Hard Knocks”, while also citing how the scheme change from defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is making his job easier.

Being able to play more downhill, not having to worry about too much. AG is making the defense a lot easier for the linebackers,” Barnes told reporters after practice on Thursday. “And that’s what I like — being to play downhill, dropping in coverage, being able to read. It’s the most important thing as a linebacker.

Barnes made six starts and played in all 17 games last year, but he only played 39 percent of Detroit’s defensive snaps because of his inconsistency (and rawness, truly). He has a clear opportunity in front of him to earn a big role in an unsetted linebacking corps during this year’s camp, and it may only be a matter of keeping his current momentum going.

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