2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Kalon Barnes

Kalon Barnes

In a historic NFL combine, names were made all over the place, and Kalon Barnes was one of them. The Baylor product ran a 4.23 40-yard dash, the second-fastest in the combine’s history. So naturally, scouts are excited more than ever about Barnes. But we must take a look at that tape to see if he is just a pure combine warrior or a cornerback that can be great at the next level. 

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

Player Bio 

Name: Kalon Barnes
Jersey: No. 12
Position: Cornerback
School: Baylor
Class: Senior
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 183 lbs

Games Watched: BYU (2021), Kansas (2021), Oklahoma (2021)

Major Injury History: None


Player Breakdown 

Man Coverage (9.5/15)

From a pure man coverage standpoint, Barnes is bad. His athleticism does help him a lot, but he struggles in this area. It is also where he has the most experience, as Baylor rarely runs zone. Barnes gets beat off the line badly. He allows inside leverage consistently and will not be able to defend a receiver in the red zone because of this. Barnes is only elite in man coverage when you get downfield. His speed and hip movement allow Barnes to blanket any receiver, but even then, he has some issues. He has also been caught sleeping on some plays and isn’t the most intelligent man coverage corner. Barnes needs to read the receiver’s hips more and not be so vulnerable up at the line of scrimmage. 

Zone Coverage (12.75/15)

We already said that Barnes doesn’t have too much experience in zone coverage, but he’s succeeded when playing it. Barnes has done well to filter out receivers from his zone into the next. He stays balanced and knows, for the most part, who to stick with and who to let go. There are times where you’d like to see Barnes be a little less robotic, like not sticking fully to the scheme. If Barnes can get more experience with zone coverage, it could become a strength of his in the NFL, especially with that closing speed. 

Instincts (6/10)

Instincts have been Barnes’ most inconsistent area. From a general standpoint, he’s slow to react to the pass and take a break on the football. On the other hand, we have seen great plays where Barnes gets beat off the line, keeps his composure, uses his speed, and blankets the receiver like it’s nothing. Reacting quicker to cuts and the ball being thrown will be key in Barnes’ development, but it is a very doable task. 

Ball Skills (6/10)

This one was disappointing. If you watched Barnes during the defensive back drills at the combine or on film, you’d see he has a great tracking ability. After that, though, everything else related to ball skills is weak. This was most notable against BYU, as Barnes got out jumped and outmuscled twice at the point of catch deep downfield by a BYU receiver. The tracking will help Barnes at the next level, but the rest must come into effect soon if Barnes wants to have a career in the league. 

Press/Physicality (4/10)

Even though Barnes is put in on-man coverage quite often, his physicality is very low. Barnes never puts his hands on the receiver. Quite frankly, the only time he made contact with any receiver was going up for a jump ball. He’s tried to apply his hands at times, but there are multiple attempts that just got shredded and batted down by the receiver. Now, the athleticism does allow him to get away with this at times; however, NFL receivers are a lot quicker than those on Kansas.  

Long Speed (9.75/10)

Here we go. Long speed can’t be fully represented by a 40-yard dash, but Barnes has shown it tremendously on tape as well. The only real knock on Barnes’ long speed is that he tends to stumble. When he gets going too fast, he has tripped up a tad. However, this is rare. The next step for Barnes here is controlling his speed. He must be able to stop on a dime quicker, as comeback and curl routes have hurt him. 

Tackling/Run Support (5/10)

Barnes is almost never involved in the run game. This is a player who you just wish would end up on the floor more, trying to make a play. When Barnes does get active, though, it’s dangerous. Baylor showed Barnes’ potential by sending him on some blitzes. Here, we saw that elite closing speed, and while he didn’t make the tackle, he impacted the play. Another thing Barnes does well is cut down on ball carrier angles and force the player out of bounds often. 

Athleticism (9.5/10)

If you somehow couldn’t tell by now, Barnes is a phenomenal athlete. The speed is obviously the main factor here, but Barnes can do other things nicely. Based on drills in the combine, Barnes showed he has a nice jumping ability. In the film, he didn’t really impress jumping-wise; however, it can be there. Athleticism is what will carry Barnes at the next level. 

Change of Direction (5/5)

A fluid mover, Barnes flips his hips very well. While he does let receivers beat him a lot, it’s definitely not because Barnes can’t change direction. Instead, he’s a fluid mover, which is very evident when fighting corner routes and working on the sideline. Inside, he’ll lose leverage early, although he is always quick to react afterward to try and make a play. 

Length (4/5)

Barnes measured in at the combine at 5-foot-11. That seems a tad bit small, but on film, he plays longer. Besides, corners don’t need all too much length when playing with this much movement ability. However, it would be nice for Barnes’ ball skills, which we know are in the weaker parts of his game. Overall, length isn’t too much of an issue for Barnes.

Player Summary

This is another example of combine measurements not meaning everything. Barnes has great athleticism yes. However, the rest of his play is not up to par. There are tons that Barnes needs to work on to have a successful career. The good news is great athleticism is key to quicker development, so hopefully, Barnes can use this to his advantage. As for a projection, Barnes was originally viewed as a late day three pick. Now, there’s really no telling where he goes. Don’t be surprised if a team bites and takes him in the third round. However, he is still a day three talent. 

Rookie Projection: Practice-Squad/Depth Piece

Third-Year Projection: Rotational Defensive Back

Player Grade (71.5/100): Fifth-Round

Player Comparison: Isaiah Rodgers

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images


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