C.J. Barnett, S, Ohio State (HT: 5’11”; WT: 191 lbs)
- Utilizes the sideline well while in pass coverage and defending the run. He understands that his positioning can force the receiver out of bounds, limiting the chances of the player breaking inside for a bigger gain.
- Recognizes plays at an efficient rate, and is able to start the play by taking his first steps in the right direction. Being able to get into position quickly is important for a physically limited athlete, especially for one competing for a roster spot.
- Versatile player that had to change roles after Ohio State starting free safety Christian Bryant was injured for a majority of the 2013 season.
- Sure tackler in space, showing the ability to wrap up the ball-carrier with good form.
- At his best when he can attack the line of scrimmage and run downhill, as opposed to making lateral adjustments.
- Able to play zone in either cover 2 or cover 4 assignments, where he isn’t responsible for large chunks of the field, like he was at Ohio State.
- Played next to a lot of young secondary guys for the Buckeyes, forcing him to play in a simplified scheme that was picked apart by opposing offenses. His role in the NFL is likely going to be more defined and better for his skill set.
- Hard worker that should be able to make an impact on special teams. He was the defensive captain as a fifth-year senior.
- Smaller than what NFL teams prefer at safety, which the threshold is 6’0’’ and 200 pounds. Although Barnett can add weight to his frame, his game is already slow, and the extra weight might slow him more.
- Struggled to locate the ball in man coverage, since he doesn’t turn his head to make a play. He gets caught in poor position to force a turnover because he focuses on the receiver too long.
- Vulnerable to overcommitting to his gap on run plays, and unable to be the safety net in case the ball-carrier hits the second level. For an experienced player, he tries to rely on his athleticism too often.
- Not athletic enough to be parallel with a ball-carrier and be able to catch up. A limited athlete that needs to win with instincts and technique.
- He isn’t fluid enough to be on an island, one on one, with receivers often. His hips are stiff, causing his change of direction to have a slight hitch.
- Top speed and acceleration are limited. He isn’t able to overcome making a mental mistake.
- Route recognition and instincts are major concerns, as he was often way too late when helping a cornerback defense passes. He played in a scheme that he isn’t suited for, but he clearly must play strong safety if he’s going to have NFL success.
- Third-team All-American in 2013.
- Academic All-Big Ten for his classroom accomplishments.
- Honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2013.
- Graduated with a degree in sociology/criminology.
- Former four-star recruit out of Dayton, Ohio.
C.J. Barnett finished his collegiate career mostly maxed out, and was able to accomplish a lot of good things while at Ohio State. That being said, projecting forward, it is unlikely that Barnett is drafted after his disappointing 2013 season. He does not have the natural athleticism or instincts needed to become a starting defensive back. He could possibly find a home as a special teams player in 2014.
Draft Projection: 7th Round-UDFA