- His size. Dude is HUGE. Ideal size for an NFL nose tackle.
- His athleticism, all things considered. He's obviously no track star, but given his size he can still move fairly well.
- His intelligence. This is something that came off strong in his interviews at the Combine. Barnes' position is one that typically attracts folks that make their living off of brawn moreso than brains, we'll say. However, Barnes is quite intelligent, and impressed a lot of the scouts who were interviewing players.
- Barnes's size, while a strength, works against him as well because his 6'6" frame is tough to get low enough to gain leverage on blockers.
- His work ethic has been questioned in the past, as has his level of conditioning. This improved his senior year, although he still wasn't able to play as many snaps as most players would be expected to.
System: In college, Barnes largely functioned as a nose-tackle in Al Groh's 3-4 system. While all of the players appeared to struggle in the system, Barnes in particular struggled to pick up on the proper technique when it came to taking on multiple blockers at once. He did show improvement through his senior year, though, and shows promise at the next level should he get a chance. He can function easily as a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive tackle.
Most Memorable Moment: Personally, the most memorable moment I have of T.J. Barnes is in the 2011 Clemson upset on Homecoming. (I was actually at the game, but the next day decided to re-watch the broadcast and relive the awesome night.) There was a play in the first quarter where Clemson QB Tajh Boyd rolled out of the pocket to extend the play. Barnes had shed his blockers and was hot in pursuit of Boyd, actually gaining ground on a QB that's known for his mobility and forcing him to throw the ball away and ultimately suffer an intentional grounding call. To me, that was one of the first moments that Barnes really started opening some eyes on the Flats.
See the video here: Link.
Bottom Line: Barnes has plenty of upside and potential, but has a lot of room for improvement too. His size makes him special, especially considering the role it plays in his position. In college, Barnes never became a dominant, imposing nose tackle, but put in a solid body of work. In the League, it's unreasonable to think he might start as a rookie (barring injuries), but it's very reasonable to see him as a solid back-up. His size and intelligence are great, although his technique and endurance leave something to be desired, thus indicating to me that he should see time, but not a ton of it at a time. All that said, with only football to concentrate on, it's quite believable that Barnes could develop his technique and stamina enough to become a starter within a short time in the league.
FTRS Projection: 6th-7th Rounds
NFL Draft Scout Projection: 6th-7th Round (19th-best DT)
You've watched him, Tech fans. Would you draft TJ Barnes? Would he start? Would he be a role-player?