The Detroit Lions held a virtual meeting with season ticket holders on Tuesday night, where general manager Brad Holmes and members of the organization's front office discussed the players acquired in the 2021 NFL draft. Invitations were limited to this special event, but Justin Rogers was given access and he provided some insights in an article available to Detroit News’ subscribers.
There were quite a few interesting tidbits on all the newest Lions. Several we had previously heard before—like inquiring about trading up for Penei Sewell and Levi Onwuzurike—but Rogers’ section on fourth-round linebacker Derrick Barnes had some cool new nuggets of information.
After the Lions made wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown their selection at pick No. 112, the Lions only held one more pick in the draft, pick No. 152 in the fifth round. The Lions knew there was no way Barnes would still be on the board at that time, so Holmes got on the phones and traded pick No. 152 and a future fourth-round pick in 2022 to the Cleveland Browns, and acquire picks No. 113 (which they used to select Barnes) and 257 (Jermar Jefferson).
So why were the Lions so aggressive in acquiring Barnes? Well, it starts with Lions’ special advisor and former linebacker Chris Spielman.
The Lions were very much in the market to add a linebacker, and per Rogers, Holmes had a tough time finding a linebacker Spielman “would sign off on.” Spielman “acknowledged he has lofty standards for the position”, but credit to Dave Sears (Lions’ college scouting director) who “encouraged him to take a deeper look” at Barnes.
Spielman would go on to explain that not only did the Lions love what he brought to the table as a player—”ability to close, as well as his vision and hand usage”—but he was also a player who met the Lions standards on “elite intangibles and character.”
The move was positively acknowledged by people throughout the league. Holmes said, “he got several texts from other teams expressing frustration they missed out or simply congratulations on the selection” of Barnes. While Spielman joined in by saying, “he got a text from his brother Rick, general manager of the Vikings, conceding it was a great pick for the Lions”.
Barnes will immediately compete for reps at inside linebacker, and while he has two experienced veterans starting in front of him (Jamie Collins and Alex Anzalone) he looks like the future of the position of the Lions.