It was better late than never for Christian Barmore. Much better. The redshirt-sophomore defensive tackle was putting together a fine but unextraordinary season at Alabama, overshadowed by
It was better late than never for Christian Barmore.
The redshirt-sophomore defensive tackle was putting together a fine but unextraordinary season at Alabama, overshadowed by teammates on offense oozing talent, illuminating a scoring attack for the ages. It was difficult for a defensive player in the trenches to get noticed, with all the pyrotechnics generated by receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, running back Najee Harris and quarterback Mac Jones.
Going against that gifted group in practice, though, offered a challenge like no other.
“One, they made us better every day,’’ Barmore said. “That’s the best offense in the whole world. I’m really happy those seniors came back and got us better. They motivated us. They were good leaders. So they helped us. They helped all the young dudes, the juniors, motivate us to step up our game.’’
Barmore knew about the need to step up his game.
He missed two games to start the season and managed only two sacks in his first five games. He finished his college career with a flourish, though, with six sacks in his last six games, and was dominant in the College Football Playoff games. He played well against Notre Dame in the semifinals and then was sensational against Ohio State in the national championship, with one sack, two tackles for loss and five total tackles. One of the tackles for loss was a fourth-down stop in the third quarter as Barmore was named the game’s Defensive Most Valuable Player.
“He’s just got a high motor, a guy that’s going to give it 100 percent every time,’’ Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner, said of Barmore. “He puts the work in. He just loves the game. He just loves being out there. He’s just an unbelievable player.’’
The late flourish greatly enhanced Barmore’s 2021 NFL Draft stock. He was thought to be a borderline first-round pick, but that evaluation might as well be written in ancient hieroglyphics. Barmore is now a surefire first-rounder in a year the defensive tackle position is lacking.
“I mean you just see the progression every game you watch of him getting better and better,’’ ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “He may never be, he’s not gonna be an elite pass rusher, but he’s disruptive. He’s gonna move the pocket and get the quarterback off the spot. He’s got quick hands, quick feet and he’s really stout, tough versus the run. And also his effort, you know, chasing down guys from behind and diving and trying to make tackles. He laid it on the field, and you could tell it kind of started to click for him midseason, and he just got better and better as the season progressed.”
What sort of prospect is Barmore? At 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds he has the size and athletic ability to be a prototype three-technique, penetrating interior defender in the NFL. He is not on par with another former Alabama defensive tackle, Quinnen Williams, who went No. 3 overall in 2019 to the Jets and took a full year to acclimate to the NFL and begin to show the potential he possesses.
The downside to Barmore is he is something of an enigma. He is a late-bloomer — he turns 22 in late July — and does not have much of a body of work to show for his Alabama career. He had eight sacks and three forced fumbles in 2020, yet has only six college starts.
“Barmore is a little bit of a boom or bust,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “There is a lot of ability there. You saw the good stuff at the end of the year that gets you fired up. And then I could point out some games in the early or middle part of the season where he doesn’t look like the same guy. Just a little bit up and down with him.”
Scouts offer differing opinions projecting Barmore at the next level. Warren Sapp, a Pro Football Hall of Famer as a penetrating defensive tackle, had a chance to work with Barmore in Florida as part of some pre-draft preparation and came away less than impressed.
“I just promise you this, if these eyes right here that you’re looking at are telling a lie about talent, then shoot me. I won’t talk about football any more,’’ Sapp told PewterReport.com. “If this kid’s a first-round pick, then I won’t talk football [on social media] for a full year. It’s nothing personal, but I’ll take off a whole year if Barmore is a first-round pick.”
It will be stunning if Barmore does not hear his name called during the first round. Sapp’s social media presence might soon be quieted, it appears.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Paul Schwartz