Tarique Barnes NFL Draft Scouting Report
Height: 6’1” | Weight: 230 lbs
Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (2022) • Team Captain (2022)
- Leader and good communicator on defense
- Mostly reliable in man coverage
- Special teams background
- Block deconstruction needs improvement
- Slow to read plays
- Inconsistent tackler
In-play Film Analysis:
Tarique Barnes is a middle linebacker for the Fighting Illini with four years of collegiate experience under his belt. His role should only be further pronounced in 2023 after fellow inside linebacker Calvin Hart Jr. transferred to Oregon State.
One of the first things that sticks out about Barnes is his ability to lead his teammates. Barnes is one of Illinois’ team captains, and it’s easy to see why. He’s constantly helping his fellow defenders line up correctly and directing traffic on the field before the snap. Barnes shines especially on passing plays, particularly when he drops into man coverage against a running back or tight end. He does well to navigate through traffic over the middle to keep up with his man, giving himself a chance to make a play on the ball or make a tackle. Barnes also played all 13 games as a freshman primarily on special teams, so he can be a contributor there.
However, many deficiencies appear in Barnes’ ability to defend against the run. Right off of the snap, Barnes often takes too long to make a read on the play, and even when he’s made his read, it’s not always the right one. There were several instances on film where Barnes got wiped out of a play because he made a wrong initial read and was picked up by a blocker before he could adjust. Speaking of blockers, Barnes needs work on deconstructing blocks both from a functional strength and balance standpoint. Blockers often had their way with Barnes because he’d be standing up without a strong base and couldn’t rip away from their hands. In addition, Barnes’ tackling ability is inconsistent at best. He needs to do a better job of wrapping up and staying low to get better leverage on ball-carriers.
Barnes has a ways to go before he can be considered a contributing linebacker on defense, but there is some special teams upside that teams may like to work with.
Prospect Projection: Day 3 — Role specific contributor
Written By: Jack McKessy
Last Updated: June 9, 2023
Exposures: Iowa (2022), Minnesota (2022) Northwestern (2022)