The Cowboys’ 2020 defense suffered from poor defensive tackle play, largely due to Gerald McCoy’s season-ending injury and Dontari Poe’s inability to do much of anything before being cut halfway through the year. Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore have both shown flashes, but neither should give the team much confidence as full-time starters heading into the new year.
Unfortunately, this draft class is pretty weak at the defensive tackle position. In fact, it may be the weakest position group this year. However, Alabama’s Christian Barmore stands out as the clear and obvious top defensive tackle this year. I’ve already made the case for Dallas taking him with their tenth overall pick, which would break their own 29-year streak of never selecting a defensive tackle in the first round, but this scouting report delves a little deeper into what Barmore has to offer.
Name: Christian Barmore
Weight: 310 lbs
2020 Stats: 11 games, 37 tackles, 8 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 3 passes defensed
Burst: For a guy that was listed at 310 pounds and looks even bigger, Barmore has a surprisingly fast get-off. He explodes out of his stance off the line and does a great job of converting that burst into straight-line speed. There were a few reps in the National Championship game where it looked like Ohio State left Barmore unblocked, but it was because he was so sudden out of his stance. There’s a reason why Barmore should feast on opposing NFL guards as a 3-technique, and a lot of it stems from how twitchy he is when the ball is snapped.
Footwork: This might be Barmore’s biggest weakness as a player, as he’s routinely lined up in fundamentally unsound stances prior to the snap. As a result, his footwork is always a bit awkward for the rest of the play. His incredible burst and monstrous strength allowed Barmore to get away with that in college, for the most part, but NFL linemen are more equipped to take advantage of that weakness. For Barmore to truly take the next step and become the consistent game-breaker he can easily be, he’ll need to refine this element quickly; going to Dallas would do him well, since defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is known as a hands-on defensive line guru.
Hand Technique: We’ll have to see how Barmore’s arm length measures at his pro day, because on film he appears to have incredibly long arms that pack a punch. Barmore is violent in the way he lands his hands on opposing blockers, and he uses every inch of his arms to get full extension against them. Barmore also has good hand-eye coordination, which comes in handy when he’s asked to two-gap, although the footwork issues pop up here frequently. Still, Barmore understands how to use his long arms and big hands to build off of his explosive first step and convert speed to power in a pinch.
Pass Rush Moves: There are some pass rushers that come into the draft with a wide array of pass rush moves but don’t possess any one move they’re exceptional at. Barmore is the opposite, as he really only uses an arm-over move. Part of this is due to Barmore’s ability to beat blockers with sheer athleticism and speed, and it’s also due to just how good his arm-over is. Barmore does a great job of reading the pocket and knows when to be more deliberate in his arm-over move and when to whip it out right away, which made it hard for linemen to properly attack it. He’ll need more moves in his arsenal at the next level, but having an elite arm-over move like Barmore possesses is one heck of a starting point.
Lateral Agility: Guys that are this big should not be able to move like this. Even with the sloppy footwork, Barmore has plenty of instances where he effortlessly moves across the line of scrimmage to plug gaps and adjust to the offense. He combines that with his long wingspan to really get the most lateral coverage on the line of scrimmage. On quick outs and screens to the outside, Barmore also does a great job of peeling off and flowing to the ball, something you don’t usually see from your big defensive tackles.
Athleticism: Barmore certainly looks the part of a physical freak. He has a filled out frame and doesn’t sacrifice any athleticism because of it, which is exactly what you want in a defensive tackle. Short of some wonky training or a mild injury, Barmore should be able to wow everyone at his pro day testing drills with his athleticism.
Run Defense: Barmore possesses all of the traits to be an elite run defender in the NFL, but again, he needs to fix that footwork issue. His size, strength, and length gives him a ridiculous tackle radius, and his lateral agility often puts him in perfect position for stopping the ball-carrier. When one-gapping against the run, Barmore is nearly unstoppable, but his poor pad level gets him in trouble as a two-gapper. Again, better footwork would clean this up, as Barmore has all the traits to be a forceful two-gapping presence on top of his elite penetration skills.
Processing: As is often the case with Alabama defenders, Barmore displays really good football IQ. He has a natural feel for how the offensive line he’s facing operates, and is able to quickly read what the line is showing him before he formulates a plan of attack. While he’s had footwork-related struggles when two-gapping, Barmore still does a great job of reading the offense on these reps and reacting appropriately to it.
Toughness: Barmore is a tough dude. He’s big and strong and has no reservations using it to his advantage. He’ll go all the way until the whistle and is never truly out of a play, frequently flowing to the ball and looking to get involved where he can. He carries himself like the game-wrecker he can be, and that’s very beneficial for him.
Intangibles: This one is hard to judge. Barmore played sparingly in 2019 and even in 2020 he was used as more of a pass-rushing defensive tackle until later in the season. A lot of this is due to the sheer amount of talent on the Crimson Tide defensive line, especially last year, so it’s hard to get an accurate idea of Barmore as a leader or other type of fixture within the locker room. With more veteran guys on that defense, like Dylan Moses and LaBryan Ray, there wasn’t much of a need for the younger Barmore to take on that kind of role. However, there are these quotes from Ray and Patrick Surtain II regarding Barmore’s impact on their defense:
“He makes a big impact, just to have a person who wreaks havoc and makes big plays,” UA defensive lineman LaBryan Ray said. “To have him back in the huddle is something that’s good to have, just to work across from him and see how he works. Other people feed off of his energy.”
“B-Mo, he brings a lot of energy,” cornerback Patrick Surtain II said. “It actually boosts up the defense with how much energy he has. He’s very tenacious. He acts like he’s angry all the time out there on the field. We need those type of dudes on the defense, especially on the D-line.”