Nov 23, 2013; Logan, UT, USA; Utah State Aggies quarterback Darell Garretson (6) is sacked by Colorado State Rams linebacker Shaquil Barrett (56) during the first quarter at Romney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
This likely isn’t the roster move you were all waiting for, but if you’ve been following along since the 2014 NFL Draft, you all know how much I love Shaquil Barrett, who has just been promoted to the active roster from the Denver Broncos’ practice squad.
Barrett is replacing Danny Trevathan on the Broncos’ active roster, and if there’s any silver lining to Trevathan being placed on short-term injured reserve (eligible to return mid-December), it’s that. Coming out of Colorado State, Barrett had a really interesting path to the NFL. He started his collegiate career at a school that no longer has a football program before ending up at Colorado State.
He was moved around from position to position, finally ending up at his natural position of an edge rusher, though he excelled in every area the Rams put him. He was phenomenal as a pass rusher, however, tallying 20.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks as a senior this past season, as well as four forced fumbles and three blocked kicks.
I’m not trying to be overly optimistic about a practice squad promotion player, but Barrett is better than any player the Broncos drafted outside of Cody Latimer and Bradley Roby. That’s a lofty statement to make, but I believe it completely after watching his 2013 tape. There was never a play that Barrett wasn’t around the ball, or wasn’t impacting the outcome.
I’ve heard from some friends in the scouting/blogosphere who had Barrett rated higher as a prospect than some first round picks. He doesn’t have athletic limitations, he doesn’t have off-field baggage, and he certainly doesn’t have a lack of on-field production or consistency. This is a guy who was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year last season, and one who shockingly went undrafted when you really look hard at it.
One of the most harsh evaluators in the business labeled Barrett as a ‘better football player than athlete’ and said that he ‘consistently gets the job done.’ I’ll take a better football player over a skilled athlete any day, but you’ll rest peacefully knowing that Barrett posted a very respectable 4.73 in the 40-yard dash at 251 pounds. That’s not exactly plodding along.
Despite not having jaw-dropping athleticism like Jadeveon Clowney, Barrett possesses the type of work ethic and football IQ that has made stars out of unheralded prospects like Chris Harris, Danny Trevathan, Malik Jackson, and a bevy of other recent prospects for the Broncos who have come seemingly out of nowhere to make an impact.
In my opinion, this is not the garden-variety practice squad promotion. I don’t think anyone would have been the least bit surprised if Barrett had made the final 53-man roster, but the Broncos just have such incredible depth at the linebacker position, they had to use his spot elsewhere. Luckily, they snuck him on the practice squad, but it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to do it again.
Let’s hope John Elway doesn’t play with fire, there.
Anyway, I expect the versatile Barrett — who is an excellent special teams player — to be active for the Broncos sooner rather than later.