The Patriots made just one trade in the 2021 NFL Draft, sending three picks to the Bengals, as they made an aggressive move to select defensive tackle Christian Barmore, a disruptive defensive lineman who terrorized SEC and playoff quarterbacks all season long in 2020.
After taking Mac Jones 15th overall, the Patriots stuck with the Nick Saban connection at Alabama, adding a second national champion to the New England roster. Barmore's performance this past season, culminating with the Defensive MVP of the National Championship Game, and he adds a heavy dose of intriguing potential to the Patriots defense in all the right ways.
For a defensive front that was largely remade this offseason, Barmore is the cherry on top and if he can continue to develop, could someday be the best of them all.
Raised in Philadelphia, Barmore was spotted as a basketball player at Del Val Charter high school and brought into football by coach Troy Gore, who told NBC10 Philadelphia that Barmore instantly dominated despite his lack of experience.
When the school closed before Barmore's senior season, he ended up at Neumann Goretti under coach Al Crosby, where he continued his dominance, earning scholarship offers.
"He was extremely, extremely raw, but he was a very athletic young man who had motor and played with a lot of energy," Crosby recalled to Patriots.com. "He turned out to be a phenomenal football player for us."
Barmore got an early crash course in football, originally committing to Temple before Alabama came knocking. His innate size and strength made him a football natural.
To catch up on learning the game, Barmore focused on former Eagle Reggie White and it's not hard to see the similarities to how Barmore played this past season. The brute strength jumped off the tape as he ripped through offensive lines, logging eight sacks, nine-and-a-half tackles for loss and three passes defensed.
At 6-foot-4, 310 pounds with 33 5/8" arms, he has ideal size to play multiple positions along the line, but it's the combination of power and quickness that jump out most and often in 2020 he was simply unblockable. At his best as a pass-rushing defensive tackle, his combination of quickness and power can be overwhelming against single blockers. But he has the power and size to play anywhere on the line.
In what was generally labelled a weak defensive lineman class, Barmore was the consensus best and it's clear the Patriots saw an opportunity to add a high-ceiling player, even at a position that has already had a significant number of additions this offseason.
View photos of Patriots second round pick Christian Barmore in action at Alabama.
Even with Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise returning and the free agency additions of Davon Godchaux, Henry Anderson, and Montravius Adams, Barmore is still a necessary addition who can help the defense get off the field on third down.
"You're going to get a young man who's going to be very high energy, day in and day out," said Crosby. "I don't think you'll ever see a situation where he's not playing hard. He's extremely passionate."
That hard-charging attitude should help Barmore along his quickest route to playing time -- on third down, where he's already the most obvious replacement for Adam Butler's sub-package interior rusher role. The other veteran additions were mostly in the early-down, run-stuffer category and Barmore's disruptive qualities should immediately translate to the NFL level at the most basic "go get the quarterback" level.
For a player that has all the physical measurables and tools, as well as the high-effort play style, Barmore's ceiling is sky high. Developing his early-down two-gapping ability, a big part of the Patriots defensive front, and processing the game on an NFL level will determine if he reaches that ceiling, but the potential is all there for him to be a dominant force within the Patriots defense.