Christian Barmore: The Next Big Thing?
To the surprise of many, defensive tackle Christian Barmore slid straight out of the first round of last year’s NFL Draft. The New England Patriots then jumped at the opportunity to trade up and take him with the 38th overall selection. Despite only starting twice, Barmore faced no shortage of playing time in his rookie campaign. The 6-foot-5 310 pound Philadelphia native found the field in every game a year ago and he was quite impactful. That especially rang true in the second half of the season when he became a legitimate pass-game disruptor, even if the numbers ultimately didn’t show it.
Now a week into training camp, Barmore has been the near-consensus top player for the Patriots so far. The Alabama product, to rave reviews, has been a one-man wrecking crew on the interior. By all accounts, Patriots fans should be high on the second-year defender, because he very well could be the next big thing on defense for this team. Entering his sophomore season, what should the expectations be for Barmore?
End More Plays with Sacks
As a rookie, Barmore was elite at applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks. His 48 recorded pressures in year one were more than Aaron Donald, JJ Watt, Chris Jones, and Ndamukong Suh in their rookie years. This isn’t to say he is any of those four right now, specifically Donald who for my money is the best player in the NFL, but that is quite the promising sign.
With that in mind, finishing plays with the quarterback on the ground is an area where Barmore, by his own admission, can improve. Jones is a solid baseline to judge Barmore by due to the pair having similar rookie seasons. In addition to them having similar RAS scores coming into the league. If Barmore is on a similar trajectory as the Kansas City Chiefs star, six sacks would be the benchmark. If he passes that number, it wouldn’t feel like a complete shock.
Improve Against the Run
Holding court with Patriots’ writers on Wednesday, Barmore mentioned that getting better in the run game is his top priority. Additionally, he specifically mentioned stretch runs as an area where he feels better right now, and that he wants to “dominate the run." Based on this opening stint of training camp, Barmore appears well on his way to doing just that in 2022. Just ask Patriots' right guard Mike Onwenu, who had a rough go against him in 1-on-1 drills earlier this week.
It wasn’t that Barmore was inherently subpar against the run as a rookie, but the Patriots haven’t been one of the better run-defending teams for a few seasons now. A promising number from his opening year was that Barmore ranked second on the Patriots' defense (minimum of 15 games) with a 4.2 missed tackle percentage. The only defender better in that statistic was his running mate Davon Godchaux, who was at three percent on the dot.
Continue to Show Up in Crunch Time
Something else that jumped out about Barmore’s rookie campaign was his second and fourth quarters production. That is where the Alabama product put up 69.5 percent of his tackles and 100 percent of his sacks. Of course, some of that ultimately boils down to situational usage, along with the Patriots frequently rotating on the defensive front. However, it is great to know Barmore can be relied on to show around the end of each half. Given that he is likely to receive a well-earned uptick in snaps across the board, that percentage will likely drop, but that won’t necessarily indicate a lack of production.
Make the Most of the Opportunity
As previously stated, Barmore is in line to get an uptick in snaps for the 2022 season. As a rookie, it wasn’t a coincidence that the Patriots did better when he was on the field. In the six games where Barmore took over 60 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps, the Patriots were 5-1 and were a 12.8 point per game defense. On the opposite side, when he played under half of the defensive snaps, New England went 2-4 and allowed 21.8 points per game. That certainly isn’t happenstance with that sample size. Now in season No. 2, he gets the opportunity to become a legitimate defensive anchor for Bill Belichick and company.