Why Undrafted?: Deion Barnes

Why Undrafted?: Deion Barnes, OLB, Penn State
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

One of the surprise players to enter the 2015 NFL Draft was Penn State edge rusher Deion Barnes. Barnes totaled 34 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, one forced fumble and one pass batted in 2014. The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder had another year of eligibility, but he passed on returning for his redshirt senior season. Since he was in school for four years, Barnes qualified for the Senior Bowl and had a quality week there in the pass-rushing one-on-ones. With edge rushers being in demand, it was somewhat surprising that Barnes went undrafted.

In speaking with teams, Barnes had some grades as a late-round pick, but he still fell to the undrafted pool. Sources say the reason that Barnes was not selected in the 2015 NFL Draft was because they felt he lacked strength and played soft. His tackle total reflected that. They felt that Barnes would have been better off returning for another year and getting stronger before making the jump to the NFL.

After going undrafted, Barnes signed with the New York Jets. It was a mixed decision to sign with New York. On the positive side, the Jets were in need of an edge pass-rusher and have been for a few years. They don’t have set long-term starters at the position, so Barnes has the opportunity to compete. Calvin Pace and Jason Babin are nearing the end of their careers.

On the negative side, New York drafted a player at the position in the third round with Louisville’s Lorenzo Mauldin. Considering the pick investment, Mauldin will definitely get a roster spot over Barnes. So that leaves one or two potential roster spots open for Barnes to compete for. and he will have to impress on special teams in the preseason to land one of those spots. Barnes could also develop on the practice squad. He may need a redshirt season in the weight room before truly competing for the Jets.

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