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NFL draft results 2021: Why the Patriots selected Alabama DT Christian Barmore

New England moved up to No. 38 overall for the Crimson Tide defensive lineman.

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NCAA Football: Western Carolina at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

As the second round of the 2021 NFL draft opened Friday night, the New England Patriots went to back to Alabama.

New England did so to take former Crimson Tide defensive tackle Christian Barmore with the No. 38 overall pick after a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals involving the rights to Nos. 46, 122 and 139 overall.

Here’s an initial look at why.

Top-ranked defensive tackle in the 2021 class

Barmore’s name was projected to be called Thursday. Instead, entering the weekend, the redshirt sophomore became the first defensive tackle off the board in a class perceived to have a steep drop-off. The stay at Alabama spanned 24 games and six starts for Barmore, who racked up 15.5 career tackles for loss to go with 10 sacks, a trio of forced fumbles and a handful of batted passes.

First-team All-SEC and second-team All-American honors were accrued on the way to becoming the Crimson Tide’s defensive MVP in January’s national title game versus Ohio State. Barmore, at age 21, led the program in both sacks and forced fumbles during his final campaign. Pro Football Focus charted him for four hits and 27 hurries on opposing quarterbacks in the process.

Versatile length and athleticism for a post-Adam Butler depth chart

The Patriots made defensive tackle a focus in free agency after a season in which no unit ranked lower in Football Outsiders’ run DVOA. Team captain Lawrence Guy remained. Veterans Henry Anderson, Davon Godchaux and Montravius Adams arrived. But the departure of sub-package disruptor Adam Butler to the Miami Dolphins left an opening on the depth chart.

Barmore, at 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, has the athletic profile to fill it. His alignment along the Crimson Tide front ranged from nose tackle to 3-4 defensive end. He ran the 40-yard dash in the range of 4.93 seconds before a strong Patriots contingent at Alabama’s pro day. And with an 81 3/8-inch wingspan, Barmore extends into the 83rd percentile at the position, according to MockDraftable. That could reach the surface on third downs early on.

The Alabama pipeline

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s war room has filled out cards for Nick Saban-coached Alabama prospects in three consecutive Aprils.

Running back Damien Harris landed in the third round of the 2019 draft. Linebacker Anfernee Jennings followed in the third round of the 2020 draft. And 23 slots before the exchange in the second round for Barmore, so did quarterback Mac Jones in the first round. The pipeline continues to flow from Tuscaloosa to Foxborough. The recent arrivals are accompanied by three-time Super Bowl champion Dont’a Hightower, taken No. 25 overall back in 2012, on the Patriots’ roster.

Poll

How would you grade the Patriots’ decision to draft Christian Barmore at No. 38?

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  • 79%
    A
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  • 17%
    B
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