Barnes Could Be the Next Steal for the Ravens

Rookie outside linebacker Antwan Barnes has created a buzz among Ravens coaches during the team’s past offseason workouts. A fourth-round pick from Florida International, Barnes was relentless with his attitude on the practice field and in the weight room. He even was mad at himself when he took a small misstep during a walk-through. Barnes is expected to play mostly on special teams, but could find a role as a situational pass rusher, much like outside linebacker Terrell Suggs did as a rookie in 2003.

Barnes could be yet another solid linebacker from nowhere, picked in the late rounds of the NFL Draft by GM Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens. As seen with up and coming star Adalius Thomas (6th round, Southern Miss), Bart Scott (103 tackles & 9 ½ sacks, undrafted free agent from Southern Illinois), Edgerton Hartwell (4th round, Western Illinois), and now with Jarret Johnson (4th round pick), the Ravens thrive in drafting and picking up productive outside linebackers that are no-names. Now with Barnes from FIU, the Ravens have a 235-pound jackhammer to complement Scott, and to play alongside middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

In this successful 3-4 defense, they could use more help in swarming to the ball carrier from Barnes, a compensatory selection. He is an explosive edge pass rusher that could maybe develop down the line into another fast, Suggs-type hybrid, LB/DE. With all the eyes and focus of the offensive coordinators on other big play defenders like Suggs, Lewis, Ed Reed, Chris McAllister, and Trevor Pryce, Barnes can really run under the radar and turn into another one of those unheralded, bargain Baltimore linebackers. With Scott improving into a reliable fourth round gem, we might see Barnes go down the same path Scott went on, becoming a playmaker in Rex Ryan’s No. 1 ranked defense.

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