In recent years, we have seen some interior linemen on defense go very early in the NFL draft. In 2018, both Vita Vea of Washington and DaRon Payne of Alabama went in the top 15 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Football Team. In 2019, the New York Jets drafted Alabama’s Quinnen Williams third overall. Last year, Auburn’s Derrick Brown was selected seventh overall by the Carolina Panthers.
We more than likely won’t see a defensive tackle drafted in the top 15 in 2021. In fact, it’s entirely possible that no tackles will be chosen in the first round. But just because this year’s class doesn’t feature a ton of star power, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a young lineman capable of making a fantasy impact in time.
There is little question that Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore is the top prospect at his position in the Class of 2021 after amassing 37 tackles, 9.5 tackles, eight sacks and three forced fumbles for the national champions. But while some draftniks believe that Barmore merits a pick in the middle of Round 1, others feel he probably shouldn’t come off the board until Day 2.
Due in part to an early-season injury, the 6’5″, 310-pound Barmore got off to a slow start in 2020—he managed just three sacks before December 1st. But in Alabama’s stretch run to another national championship, Barmore caught fire—over the season’s final five games Barmore tallied five sacks, and he notched five tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack in ‘Bama’s title-game blowout win over Ohio State.
All in all, Barmore’s performance opened quite a few eyes in NFL circles. So much so, that long-time draftnik and scout Matt Miller tweeted in mid-April that he was hearing that Barmore could be among the first few defensive players drafted.
“Teams REALLY like Christian Barmore,” Miller said. “If he’s the second or third defender off the board, I won’t be surprised.”
It isn’t just Miller who believes that Barmore could be drafted early. In his listing of the top 100 prospects in the 2021 draft, Dane Brugler of the Athletic slotted Barmore as the No. 18 prospect in the class—ahead of all but one edge-rusher.
“Barmore has been my DT1 since the summer, but it was mostly based on potential until midway through the 2020 season when he started to play like one of the best interior defensive linemen in the country,” Brugler said. “Only a redshirt sophomore, he is still learning, but the traits are going to be enticing in the mid-first round.”