Pros: Has good athleticism, speed, and strength. Shows a nice ﬁrst step and ﬂashes ability to turn the corner on the edge. Does a nice job tackling and making plays in the open ﬁeld. Has a good motor and does a decent job getting leverage vs. the run. Has nice closing burst. Shows decent recognition. Has versatility to contribute on offense as well, as he has solid hands and burst as a tight end.
Cons: Raw prospect that shows he’s still learning how to play defense. Lacks ideal edge speed, and doesn’t consistently show ability to turn the corner off the edge. Lacks any real moves, overly relying on his edge speed. Can get engulfed at the point of attack when playing the run.
Overview: Barwin spent his ﬁrst three seasons at Cincinnati playing tight end. His only real signiﬁcant playing time came as a junior, where he caught 31 passes. Moved to defense as a senior, and led team with 11 sacks. He shows the ideal athleticism and potential to play on either side of the ball, although his upside on defense is probably a bit higher.
NFL Forecast: It’s easy to put the Mike Vrabel comparison on him. Not only can he contribute as a tight end in goal line situations, if a team wanted to, they could re-convert him fully back to that position and he’d probably make an above average starter. There’s some Owen Daniels in him. But I like him more as a project on defense. Like Vrabel, I don’t expect Barwin to contribute a ton early in his career. He’ll make a nice situational pass rusher, but he’s still learning the position. He’ll need to improve his technique and recognition. Right now, he’s just a really good athlete with a big motor. He’s the type of guy that coaches love having on their team, because of his willingness to play either offense or defense. But I think he’ll need to get bigger and stronger to truly impact at the next level as a defensive end. He just lacks the ideal elite edge speed that would make it okay if he remained under 260. I think he has the frame to bulk up to around 270 and be a solid rush end. I also think that he could make the transition to linebacker like Vrabel from college end, and I believe that’s where his greatest upside is. He’s technically a tweener, but wherever teams project him, I think he’ll be successful. Give him 2-3 years to develop, and you could have a game breaker on your hands down the road at three different positions.
ATL Forecast: More than likely the Falcons should look at Barwin as a defensive end prospect than linebacker. He could play linebacker, but he projects much better in the 3-4 than 4-3 at that position. The Falcons could employ him as a situational pass rusher early on, playing the opposite side of John Abraham. In time, he could either supplant either Davis or Abraham because of his ability to play either side of the line. Right now he’d likely contribute more as a right end, but has the long-term potential to play the left. It may take him a few years to get it down, but in a Falcon uniform, it wouldn’t be a stretch to consider him another Patrick Kerney.
Value: For a team that is willing to wait for him to develop, Barwin would be a nice late pick on the ﬁrst day. He’s more of a long-term option, but his upside over time deﬁnitely makes him worth a second round pick.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
PASS RUSH: 3.5
POINT OF ATTACK: 2.0
Scouting Reports of defensive ends in the 2009 NFL Draft.
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