The New England Patriots’ 2021 season may have ended in disappointment, but the years as a whole was one of promise for the organization. Not only did it return to the playoffs after a one-year absence, it also did so while being led by a rookie quarterback who will only get better over the coming years.
Mac Jones was not the only member of the Patriots’ 2021 draft class to make an impact and show encouraging progress, though. Second-round defensive tackle Christian Barmore ended the season as one of the most disruptive players on the team, and one of the best rookie defenders across the NFL.
New England head coach Bill Belichick was also impressed by what he saw, predicting a lot of quality football yet to come for Barmore.
“Christian played a lot of snaps this year. He took a lot of snaps in practice. He was a durable and dependable player for us,” said Belichick during his end-of-season press conference. “I think he has a real good future.”
Barmore arrived in New England as the 38th selection of last year’s draft. Following a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals, the Patriots were able to make the Alabama product the first interior defensive lineman to come off the board.
Not only did they stop what had been a surprising slide for the consensus DT1, they also further bolstered a defensive front that was rebuilt earlier during the offseason. The unit still had its ups and down throughout the 2021 season, and was notoriously leaky against the run down the stretch, but Barmore’s performance as a part of it was impressive.
Playing 55.6 percent of New England’s defensive snaps over 18 games, Barmore registered 48 tackles as well as a combined 51 quarterback disruptions. According to Pro Football Focus, only edge defender Matthew Judon had more than that among his teammates.
And yet, Belichick still sees considerable room for growth for both Barmore and the other first-year players arriving in 2021.
“It’s a very long season in the National Football League, especially for a rookie that has the time in the spring and then has training camp where they’re really challenged a lot more than players who have been through that. It’s just the first time through,” he said. “It’s tough and then it’s a long season and a lot of time to manage and everybody gets banged up over an NFL season and those are all difficult parts of being a rookie. ...
“Each player’s situation is usually a little bit different, but the commonality is that there’s some degree of that. So, we’ve talked to all those players about it over the course of the year, at the beginning and at training camp and during the season, at the end of the season and talking about it and actually experiencing it are two different things. I’m sure all those players will be better prepared, for the length and the challenges of an NFL regular season than they were this year.”
Belichick went on to praise New England’s first-year class for its maturity and how it handled the challenge of transitioning to the pro level. Mac Jones was the most prominent example, but Christian Barmore — a realistic Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate were it not for the Dallas Cowboys’ Micah Parsons — was similarly impactful.
Based on his first season, the arrow is only pointing up.