Our next Edge Rusher NFL Draft Prospect is all projection but has a sky-high ceiling
Looking for more NFL Draft coverage? Check out our 2022 Draft Guide, releasing April 11th.
Amare Barno – 6′ 5″, 246 – RS Junior, Edge Rusher, Virginia Tech
Amare Barno is a DE prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored an unofficial 9.72 RAS at the Combine out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 40 out of 1389 DE from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/Z0fBEdiVlR #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/CS4Ja43rpv
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 6, 2022
Amare Barno enters the 2022 NFL Draft as one of the rawest prospects in the cycle with almost no floor but also a sky-high ceiling due to his athleticism and physical measurables. Barno has elite burst and fluid hips that scouts salivate over for speed edge rushers and can absolutely fly off the line of scrimmage.
Barno’s production at VaTech was inconsistent due to poor fundamentals and a questionable motor, but with strong coaching and in the right system, there’s an NFL player who will absolutely give the best OTs nightmares with his elite foot speed and movement skills. Interviews and team meetings will be key for Barno in the 2022 NFL Draft cycle as his game is so raw, he’ll need to prove to teams that he’s willing to put in the work to become a starting caliber player.
What I Like:
+Elite Speed & Explosiveness
+Hip Fluidity to Bend Edge
+QB Spy Ability
+Good COD Ability
+Fluidity in Space
+Range vs Run
Barno has a rangy, lanky frame with long arms and room to add more muscle and mass. His ability to add more weight and still retain his speed will be something NFL Draft scouts will like as many prospects coming out of college are maxed out physically. Barno has the room to add strength and weight, which will inherently help his game from the angles of power and edge setting, two of his bigger weaknesses.
A DL running a 4.37u?!?!?!?@HokiesFB's Amaré Barno, are you kidding?
— NFL (@NFL) March 5, 2022
Barno’s meal ticket to NFL success is and will be his elite foot speed and explosiveness. There are very few athletes on the edge who bring this amount of juice while standing 6’5″ and tipping the scales over 240lb. Barno isn’t just a track star: his speed translates to the field. Barno’s speed will separate him from the middle of the pack edge prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, as teams will gamble that their system and coaching will extract the most from such a talented athlete.
Barno shows good hip fluidity and ankle flexibility to bend the edge, an impressive trait for an NFL Draft prospect who stands 6’5″. He can dip his shoulders and get under OTs to bend the edge and create shorter paths to the QB. Barno’s combination of burst and edge bending ability will always give him an avenue to get on the field. How good he gets will depend on how much Barno shores up the other parts of his game. But at worst, Barno will be able to pressure the outside edge and run the arc on the best of NFL OTs, a trait few edge rushers in the league have.
Virginia Tech DL Amaré Barno (@Ayye_Barno) with the chop/spin. Have a pass rush plan!
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) February 10, 2022
Barno is still developing his pass rush repertoire and developing a trusted pass rush plan. This is commonplace for NFL Draft prospects at the edge rusher position, as most pile up stats in college by being physically superior to their opponents. Barno is no different in this area, but he does flash advanced counters from time to time. He still needs to work on setting up counters and needs the added strength to viably cross the OT’s face.
But every now and then, Barno will unleash a deadly spin move, like the one above or the one he threw out early in the ND game this past season. Having a go-to inside counter will open up Barno’s speed rush even more, like Colts’ legend Dwight Freeney’s vaunted spin move.
One new way Barno was used in 2021 that translates to NFL defenses is VaTech utilizing him as a QB Spy. Barno has the range, size, and speed to mirror the fastest QBs and bring them down in space once he tracks them down. He has good COD ability for a player of his height and can make up ground thanks to his elite foot speed and long strides. Barno having QB Spy ability adds another tool as an NFL Draft prospect and avenue for playing time as a young NFL player.
— EJHolt_Draft (@EJunkie215) December 30, 2021
Barno has a lot of work to do as a run defender, something NFL Draft scouts will need to reconcile with their coaches, but his speed and length allow him to make plays well outside his gap as he can range from sideline to sideline when unblocked. Barno will be able to track ball carriers down from the backside of plays and should be a pursuit demon.
Two most impressive players for Tech’s defense were Amare Barno and Armani Chatman
Here’s a thread of their standout splash plays from Friday pic.twitter.com/LNV6djXnGn
— Will Locklin (@locklin_will) September 6, 2021
What I Haven’t Seen Yet:
-Functional On-Field Strength
-Counter Rush Moves
-Hand Technique and Power
-Edge Setting Ability
Barno does not display consistent functional strength on the edge. He has a tendency to play with high pads and that saps any power from his game as he’s a little high-hipped and struggles to get leverage on blockers when he doesn’t play with good pad level. Barno lacks the ability to stun blockers with his hand punch and doesn’t reset the LOS in his favor on run plays. He gets washed down the LOS by TEs and FBs in the run game and can’t stymy single-blocks in base run schemes.
NFL Draft prospects often lack breadth in their pass rush moves, and Barno is no different in this regard. He struggles to properly execute any move beyond a speed rush with consistency, which hampers his effectiveness as a pass rusher. Having more tools in his bag to throw at tackles will give Barno better angles to attack the QB and allow his speed rush to play up more. Adding more power rushes to his game will exponentially increase his pass rush effectiveness, as OTs won’t be able to overset for his speed.
Incorporating more speed-to-power rushes will make Barno an infinitely more dangerous and hard to handle opponent for OTs. Right now, Barno is entering the NFL Draft as a 95+% speed rusher off the edge. Barno attempts to use long-arm and speed-to-power moves on occasion, but is often stymied due to lack of power on contact or poor technique. He either engages OTs with his pads too high or his hand punch is woefully late, negating any translation of his speed on contact.
— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) February 2, 2022
Barno’s hand technique is adequate at best but too often in 2021 was insufficient to just horrendous for an FBS-level edge rusher. His hands are often late to the party, which allows OTs to land the first blow and take control of a rep. His placement and aiming points are also inaccurate, as he misses the mark too often and his hands slip off the blocker, allowing himself to be engulfed at the point of attack. He lacks the strength to stack and shed blockers, negating his ability to get clean runs at the ball carrier.
Barno struggles to find the ball, particularly on misdirection plays like Zone-Read and reverses. When he’s the defender getting optioned, he doesn’t identify he’s the free-man quick enough and will run himself out of contain, giving the QB an easy decision and allowing the defense to be creased for big gains. Barno also is slow to read screens and doesn’t feel the play developing behind him. NFL Draft scouts will need to confer with their coaching staffs on whether Barno can be coached up or if this is a permanent deficiency.
Barno enters the NFL Draft as a below average edge setter against the run. He struggles to hold his gap and gets washed out of position by not just OTs, but even TEs and FBs. He struggles to feel crack blocks on toss plays and runs into too many blocks that he should be able to avoid or defeat with his length. Barno’s tendency to play with high pads hurts him here as well. VaTech would go so far to take him off the field in obvious run situations due to his run game deficiencies.
One of the more troubling things Barno put on film in 2021 was an inconsistent to at times poor motor. He’d throttle out of plays that were away from him, not give consistent pursuit downfield, and even pull-up on gang tackle opportunities. NFL Draft scouts will need to determine if this is something that will improve or if this is who Barno is as a player.
Barno enters the 2022 NFL Draft with a lot of questions marks due to his raw technique and underdeveloped pass rush repertoire, but will have a place in the NFL due to his elite speed. Speed kills and Barno brings that to the NFL Draft in droves. He can threaten the edge on a consistent play-to-play basis and will give even the best pass protectors fits with his burst and explosion off the edge.
In order to reach his ceiling, Barno will need to continue to hone his skills, refine his game, and continue to add strength. How quickly he can improve will determine whether this NFL Draft prospect will top out as just a passing down specialist or if he can become a reliable starter. Barno has the requisite frame and build to become a dynamite star, but he’ll have to work for all of it as he has such a low floor due to his technical flaws and shortcomings.
NFL Comp: Bruce Irvin
Role: Pass Rushing Specialist/QB Spy
Grade: Late-Day 2/Early-Day 3 Pick