A few weeks into the offseason, it is starting to become more apparent that the Green Bay Packers will not re-sign inside linebacker, Blake Martinez. Martinez simply has a price tag too high for the Packers to justify bringing him back. Although he has been very good since entering the league as a run stopper and tackling machine, Martinez definitely has his flaws that Packer fans are very adamant about pointing out. First, he tends to make his tackles too far away from the line of scrimmage making his tackle numbers meaningless and more importantly, his pass coverage is among the worst in the league for a middle linebacker. When Martinez signs with a different team, the Packers will need to address that hole in the lineup. From what many experts are saying, Green Bay is going to address the middle linebacker position in the upcoming draft. With more pressing needs the Packers will need to address early in the draft, they will need to find a diamond in the rough in the middle to late rounds. The diamond that should take a look at is middle linebacker out of UCLA, Krys Barnes.
According to an abundance of different draft sites, Barnes has a very unpredictable draft position. Some have him going as early as the end of the third round while other analysts believe he will go undrafted and be picked up as a priority free agent.
Barnes’ breakout season for UCLA came in 2018 when he racked up 85 tackles, 10 for a loss, 1 sack, 1 pick, and 6 pass deflections. He followed that up in 2019 with 72 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, 4 sacks, 1 pick, 7 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble.
The best part about Krys Barnes is that he is a fantastic athlete. For his size, he’s extremely fast and quick. Some would say his athleticism is the exact opposite of Blake Martinez’s. Barnes also has great instincts, he has a knack for diagnosing plays and being able to blow them up. The biggest negative when it comes to Barnes is that he is a jack of all trades but a master of none. He does everything well like tackle, blitz, and cover but he doesn’t excel in one area. However, some may look at this as a positive considering many of Green Bay’s current linebackers are very one dimensional.
UCLA is known for producing very good inside linebackers in the NFL. Currently, Jayon Brown, Myles Jack, and Eric Kendricks are examples of that. If Barnes is drafted by the Packers, they will be getting an experienced inside linebacker with the potential to be similar to the players listed above. If Blake Martinez isn’t re-signed, Barnes would be an excellent low-risk replacement who is just as good in the run but far better in coverage. Krys Barnes would be a guy Green Bay can start day one and feel good about.