The New England Patriots have never shied away from making trades on draft day, but they were comparatively conservative this year. The team made only one move, sending three total selections to the Cincinnati Bengals to jump from No. 46 to No. 38 in the second round. Their target? Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore.
Seven games into his NFL career, it seems as if the Patriots have made a good investment. Barmore, after all, is emerging as a disruptive player for the team and has carved out a regular role as a member of the interior defensive line rotation.
Appearing in all of the team’s games so far, Barmore has been on the field for a combined 258 defensive snaps — more than fellow defensive tackles Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy or Carl Davis. Along the way, he repeatedly made his presence felt despite facing his fair share of double-team blocks and being asked to play multiple roles.
“I think Christian has done a good job of developing all phases of his game. He’s improved in the run game. He’s improved in the pass rush,” said head coach Bill Belichick earlier this week.
“He’s a versatile player that’s played a number of spots for us — 5-technique, 3-technique; he’s also played on the nose. That’s a lot of things that can happen to a defensive lineman. The different blocking schemes, different types of pass protections, different reads, and then you mix that in with multiple defensive calls and so forth. Quite a bit can be going on there, and I think he’s handled that well.”
While Barmore might not have stood out quite in the same fashion as his former college teammate Mac Jones, who was drafted 15th overall and has taken over as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, he has come along well as of late. The numbers reflect this.
Used primarily as a pass rusher, Barmore has registered 17 quarterback disruptions so far. Only linebacker Matthew Judon has more, leading the team with 29. He also has drawn multiple penalties.
Most importantly, though, he has shown steady improvement.
“He’s improved all the way through. He’s been out there. He’s been durable. He’s continued to get snaps on the field daily, and he’s learned from those snaps, and he’s gotten better at the multiple things he’s been asked to do,” Belichick said.
“If he keeps working hard and he continues to press on his fundamentals and his techniques, which are so critical to the position he plays, all the line positions, I’m sure he’ll continue to get better, and as he’s gained experience and knowledge, and, as I said, better fundamentals, he’ll continue to improve. I’m glad we have him. I think he’s made a lot of progress, and I think he’ll be a good player.”
Barmore’s position coach, DeMarcus Covington, also praised the rookie for his development so far. He furthermore identified another area where he is seeing the youngster take some positive strides: leadership.
“He’s doing a really good job of preparing each week. He’s doing a really good job of taking advantage of all his opportunities that he’s getting. We play him in a lot of different roles and really each week he’s doing a better job of developing and using his fundamentals and technique, and he’s doing a good job of listening to the leadership that’s provided to him,” Covington said.
“Sometimes in order to grow as a leader you have to be a follower, and so right now he’s doing a good job of following the leaders on the team, and eventually, he can continue to build his leadership role.”
With Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy, Carl Davis and Deatrich Wise Jr. all serving as leaders along the New England defensive line, Barmore has some good role models to look up to. And the direction in which their young teammate is headed is not lost on them either, at least if Godchaux is to be believed.
“He’s growing. He’s growing a lot,” the first-year Patriot said on Wednesday. “You see his confidence getting better, and we need that as a D-line.”
Godchaux also echoed what his coaches have been saying: “He’s going to be a really good player.”