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2021 NFL draft: Alabama's Christian Barmore might be only DT taken in Round 1

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Leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, which starts April 29, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down in groups of five for Nos. 100-51, followed by more in-depth reports on our top 50 players, with help from our scouting assistant, Liam Blutman. We reserve the right to make changes to players’ grades and evaluations based on injury updates, pro-day workouts or late-arriving information from NFL teams.

Other prospect rankings: Nos. 100-96 | 95-91 | 90-86 | 85-81 | 80-76 | 75-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. OT Liam Eichenberg | 49. WR Terrace Marshall Jr. | 48. LB Chazz Surratt | 47. EDGE Joe Tryon | 46. OT-OG Alex Leatherwood | 45. CB Asante Samuel Jr. | 44. DL Levi Onwuzurike | 43. LB Jabril Cox | 42. DT Daviyon Nixon | 41. EDGE Ronnie Perkins | 40. LB Nick Bolton | 39. CB Ifeatu Melifonwu | 38. WR Elijah Moore | 37. OT Jalen Mayfield | 36. EDGE Carlos Basham Jr. | 35. CB Elijah Molden | 34. RB Travis Etienne | 33. WR Kadarius Toney | 32. EDGE Jayson Oweh | 31. LB Zaven Collins | 30. DT Christian Barmore | 29. QB Mac Jones | 28. CB Caleb Farley | 27. RB Javonte Williams | 26. C-OG Landon Dickerson | 25. S Trevon Moehrig | 24. CB Greg Newsome II | 23. WR Rashod Bateman | 22. EDGE Greg Rousseau | 21. OT Christian Darrisaw | 20. RB Najee Harris | 19. LB-S Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah | 18. EDGE Jaelan Phillips | 17. OT Teven Jenkins | 16. EDGE Kwity Paye | 15. CB Jaycee Horn | 14. OT-OG Rashawn Slater | 13. OG-OT Alijah Vera-Tucker | 12. WR DeVonta Smith | 11. EDGE Azeez Ojulari | 10. CB Patrick Surtain II | 9. OT Penei Sewell | 8. QB Zach Wilson | 7. LB Micah Parsons | 6. QB Trey Lance | 5. WR Jaylen Waddle | 4. QB Justin Fields | 3. WR Ja'Marr Chase | 2. TE Kyle Pitts | 1. QB Trevor Lawrence

Here's how we use our prospect grades for the 2021 NFL draft. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Here's how we use our prospect grades for the 2021 NFL draft. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

30. Alabama DT Christian Barmore

6-foot-4, 310 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 6.00 — possible immediate starter

TL;DR scouting report: Power rusher with fascinating tools who hasn’t played with consistent dominance

Games watched: Ole Miss (2020), Auburn (2020), Florida (2020), Notre Dame (2020), Ohio State (2020)

The skinny: A 4-star Rivals recruit out of the Philadelphia area, Barmore redshirted as a freshman in 2018. In 2019, he saw the field in 12 games (one start) making 26 stops (six for losses), two sacks and two pass breakups and was named to the all-freshman SEC team. He stepped up in 2020 to make 37 tackles (9.5 for loss), eight sacks, three forced fumbles and three pass breakups in 12 starts, missing the opener with an injury. Barmore was named third-team AP All-America and first-team All-SEC for the national champions, earning College Football Playoff Championship Game Defensive MVP vs. Ohio State. He made five tackles (two for loss) and a sack in the dominant performance. Following the season, he declared early for the 2021 draft.

Upside: Tremendous potential as interior disruptor. Pressure-to-snap ratio is excellent. Was one of the best interior players in the country in the second half of the 2020 season. 

Turned in two showcase performances in college playoff games vs. talented offensive lines of Notre Dame and Ohio State. Delivered eight-sack, three-FF season as essentially a part-time player.

Broad frame with ideal length — 33 5/8-inch arms, 10-inch hands and 81 3/8-inch wingspan. Learned to get his big meathooks up to disrupt passing lanes better in 2020. 

Heavy-handed player who can shock blockers with force. Good upper-body strength to make a dent. Swipes down blockers’ punches with ease — quality hand usage evident in improved 2020. Channels natural, raw power without lunging or overextending.

Alabama DT Christian Barmore could be the best defensive tackle in the 2021 NFL draft. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Alabama DT Christian Barmore could be the best defensive tackle in the 2021 draft. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Great 40-yard dash time (4.97 seconds), with solid 10-yard split (1.76 seconds). Terrific burst off the line to tax lumbering guards. Quick, fairly light feet. Good balance and flexibility — not on the ground a lot. Rare to see him overwhelmed at the point of attack. Can work down the line and make plays laterally.

Lined up in virtually every technique along the line and rushed from both sides. Used effectively on stunts and twists to create pass-rush opportunities. Started to finish better last season and appears to be on the verge of unlocking his full potential. Robust hitter who makes his contact count — delivered some punishing shots. On-field bully who doesn’t back down from a street brawl.

Downside: Inexperienced — a mere 747 defensive snaps in college. Only 24 career games and six starts. Still raw — continuing to figure things out on the field. Will turn 22 this spring. Late bloomer who turned focus to football later in his high school career.

Disappeared in some contests. Pass-rush efficiency varied wildly game to game. Quiet in SEC title game shootout vs. Florida. Can vacate his gap and run himself out of the play with wide rush angles or freelancing style. Requires more discipline in his approach. Not a reliable tackler yet — lets runners get out of his grasp too often.

Unremarkable times in the short shuttle (4.75 seconds) and 3-cone drill (7.81 seconds). Looked heavy and sluggish early last season — didn’t hit his physical stride until midway through the campaign. Could require extra attention in an NFL conditioning program.

Might not be an ideal two-gapper in the league. Often asked to hold the point in Bama’s read-and-react defense and was hit or miss controlling multiple gaps. Can struggle against bigger interior blockers. Still learning how to defeat or stalemate double teams.

Fails to locate the ball at times — sucked in on draws and screens. Can be stubborn to make his initial rush work, even after it has been stalled. Will get half-manned and turned sideways on tandem blocks. Doesn’t always win leverage battles vs. the run. Tends to play high, so his pad level can be improved.

Best-suited destination: Barmore is an ascending prospect who carries risk. But his talent base is strong enough where NFL teams are fascinated with what he can become.

With his combination of power and athleticism, plus his decent versatility, there’s no reason that Barmore can’t emerge as a three-down defender who has an impact against the run and the pass. It just might take time to unlock it.

Did you know: Since the 1999 draft, there have been 69 defensive tackles drafted in Round 1 — an average of 3.3 per year. The only draft when there was no DT taken in Round 1 during that span was in 2017, when Malik McDowell (35th overall, Round 2) was the highest taken.

Many around the league believe Barmore has the best chance to be the one DT to land in Round 1 in this year’s class, although Washington’s Levi Onwuzurike also has an outside shot to join him in the first 32 picks.

Player comp: Style-wise, he’s comparable to Ndamukong Suh, although Barmore isn’t nearly as refined a prospect as Suh was coming out.

Expected draft range: First-round pick.

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