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Detroit Lions trade up for Purdue LB Derrick Barnes, who has a special tattoo

Sports

The Detroit Lions traded up to pick Derrick Barnes, a linebacker from Purdue, at No. 113 overall in the 2021 NFL draft on Saturday.

One pick earlier at No. 112, the Lions took Amon-Ra St. Brown, a receiver from USC, with the seventh pick in the fourth round to open Day 3.

Barnes is a senior from Covington, Kentucky, listed at 6 feet and 238 pounds. An all-state running back in high school, he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors last season, collecting 54 tackles in six games (5½ for loss), an interception and two pass breakups.

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Linebacker is a position of great need for the Lions and Barnes could especially helpful through his versatility. He played outside linebacker and defense end, when he had 7.5 sacks as junior. He moved inside last season and tied for sixth in the FBS with 6.7 solo tackles per game.

“Being versatile is huge in the NFL and I’m glad to bring that to the table,” he told Detroit reporters Saturday. “Playing defensive end was awesome, playing linebacker was awesome. I’m just ready to take it to the NFL and do whatever the coaches ask me to do.”

Barnes didn’t record a sack last year in part because of the position change, but said he still feels comfortable playing off the edge.

“I wouldn’t say I lost my technique, but just the repetition was huge for me,” he said. “I didn’t get that much (at defensive end) my senior. But I’m willing to get back to it if I have to come off the edge and play inside linebacker. I’m wiling to do both of those. I’m going to do my best to excel at both positions and excel at what the Lions want me to do.”

One area of concern might be his coverage skills. Barnes said he wasn’t asked to play in coverage much at Purdue, and that was a glaring weakness of former Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis.

“I think I can be great in coverage,” he said. “I think I have the athleticism and speed to do it. I’m excited to take on that challenge.

“I didn’t do it much at Purdue, but I’m always willing to learn. I showed some flashes of being able to cover in college and in the NFL, it’s a lot more advanced and I’m sure to take on that challenge and give it all I got.”

A fun part of Barnes’ personality shined when he spoke of his natural love for lions. He has a huge tattoo of the animal on his right pectoral.

“My favorite animal,” he said. “The lion is the king of the jungle, heart of a lion is what I say I have. Loyalty, just power and just leadership. I think that’s all the traits I grew up having so I’ve always been a fan of the lion.”

Unlike several players in this year’s draft who opted out of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barnes said that was never a consideration for him even after posting an impressive 2019 season.

“I didn’t at all just because for me if you love the game it’s not always about where you’re going to be next year, it’s just in the moment,” he said. “It’s not always about money. It’s not like that.

“I just like the game of football, I love to play and I was a leader and captain. Why would a captain sit out and leave his brothers behind? I’m just above that. That’s just not me. I knew my senior season was going to be important for me also. That took a big consideration also.”

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In the deal for Barnes, the Lions also get a seventh-round pick at No. 257, in exchange for their fifth-round pick this year (No. 153) and a 2022 fourth-rounder.

So, the Lions have a long wait until their next pick, which is scheduled to be their last selection this year.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions trade for Derrick Barnes, Purdue LB, in NFL draft 2021