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2017 NFL Draft: Could Derek Barnett Terrorize QBs For the Colts?

Intro: In his latest mock draft, Draftwire’s Luke Easterling has the Indianapolis Colts taking Tennessee standout pass rusher Derek Barnett with their first round pick. What does Barnett bring to the table?


INDIANAPOLIS — When you've outdone Reggie White, you know you're pretty good.

Derek Barnett is pretty darn good.

Barnett, who just completed his junior season at the University of Tennessee, this past season broke White's school sacks record with his 33rd quarterback takedown, ranking first among all active FBS players.

In his latest mock draft, Draftwire's Luke Easterling believes Barnett would be the perfect pick for the Indianapolis Colts with their mid-round first-round pick in late-April's NFL Draft.

You can check out Easterling's entire draft — which includes three entire rounds — by clicking here. In the meantime, here's his rationale for the Colts taking Barnett:

With Robert Mathis retiring, the Colts need a talented pass-rusher to replace him, Barnett has been arguably the nation's most productive edge defender over the past three seasons.

Yes, if this sounds familiar, you have heard this before. On Monday, you learned that MMQB's Emily Kaplan believed the Colts would take Alabama pass rusher Tim Williams in the first round.

Like Barnett with White, Williams has drawn comparisons to New York Giants great Lawrence Taylor.

And, like Williams, Barnett has put together an impressive résumé that pretty much every team in the NFL could appreciate.

A first-team All-American in 2016, Barnett finished his junior season with a career-best 13 sacks, which ranks right behind White (15.0 sacks in 1983) and Jonathan Brown (13.5 sacks in 1997) as the third-highest single-season mark in school history.

In his three years playing for the Volunteers, Barnett proved to be more than just a capable pass rusher, however, as his 52 career tackles for loss was just one away from Leonard Little's school record of 53 set in 1997. Little also went on to have a pretty nice career with the St. Louis Rams.

Barnett also collected three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, six pass breakups, one interception and 31 quarterback hurries in his Tennessee career.

Barnett entered the Tennessee program with a bang, setting school freshmen records with 20.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.

The hope is that he could adapt just as quickly to the pro game. If you need visual proof, check out this short, but sweet, highlight video:

The Colts are certainly going to need some fresh blood at outside linebacker in their 3-4 defensive scheme, where they lose the aforementioned Mathis — this franchise's greatest pass rusher — to retirement, while Erik Walden, Trent Cole and Chris Carter head into the offseason as unrestricted free agents.

The team also recently signed Alex Bazzie, who has shined as a pass rusher in the Canadian Football League, to see if his game can transfer to the NFL.

The Colts also coincidentally have Curt Maggitt — the Volunteers' top pass rusher in 2014 before he went down with a season-ending injury in 2015 — whom they signed as an undrafted free agent last May. Maggitt played in nine games in his rookie season before going on IR.

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