Instant analysis to Jets selecting Western Michigan LB Zaire Barnes at No. 184
The Jets selected Western Michigan linebacker Zaire Barnes with the 184th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
With Barnes, the Jets get a potential core special-teamer that can also add depth in the linebacker room. Barnes has good speed and tackling ability. He ran a 4.54 40-yard dash at his Pro Day.
Barnes missed the entire 2020 season with a torn ACL but came back nicely in the two seasons following, totaling 161 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, nine passes defended and one interception in 25 games (24 starts).
Barnes is a former three-star recruit who played safety and running back in high school. That experience gives him the ability to play in coverage and his tackling ability will help in the run game. But early on, he’ll have to latch on with special teams if he is going to stick around, though he could also stick on the practice squad if he doesn’t make the final 53.
This is an interesting pick but in the sixth round, it’s worth the roll of the dice. He’ll be intriguing to follow during camp and the preseason.