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Shaquil Barrett is heading into the most important season of his career with the Denver Broncos

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Shaquil Barrett has been a productive player for the Denver Broncos throughout his career, but what should fans expect from him in 2018?

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NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have a stellar history of unearthing hidden gems in the undrafted college free agent process and fifth-year outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett is no exception.

Name: Shaquil Barrett
Position: OLB
Height: 6’2
Weight: 250
Age: 25
Experience: 5
College: Colorado State

After spending his entire rookie season on the team’s practice squad, Barrett exploded onto the scene in the team’s 2015 campaign, where he racked up 50 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles en route to becoming a Super Bowl champion. The following year showed a dip in production, even though he was considered the franchise’s most underrated player by Football Outsiders — but he bounced back in 2017 and earned nine starts and amassed 37 tackles, 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

With Barret, Von Miller, Shane Ray and rookies Bradley Chubb and Jeff Holland — the Broncos undoubtedly have the most explosive group of edge defenders in the National Football League. But with so much talent concentrated in one area, it’s reasonable to assume that Barrett will see significantly less playing time this season than he did filling in for Ray in 2017.

The Good

In 2017, Barrett earned an 82.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, which ranked 33rd overall league-wide among edge defenders. While his sack total hasn’t been similar to the numbers we saw during the Broncos’ Super Bowl run, Barrett stills registers a great amount of quarterback pressures and is also considered to be one of the best against the run at his position. Overall, he has been very consistent as a player for the Broncos and an important cog in the team’s defense.

He was eighth on the team in total defensive snaps with 664 total, being on the field roughly 63 percent of the time last season. He filled in nice for Shane Ray while he was injured and saw a majority of his snaps at the ROLB position, which is a stark comparison to years past when he primarily lined up at LOBL when Von Miller wasn’t on the field. He was also a major contributor on special teams, with 153 snaps, ranking eleventh on the team in that regard for 35 percent of eligible snaps for the unit.

The Bad

It’s hard to criticize a player like Barrett who has impressed in the action he has seen over the past three seasons. However, with the franchise selecting Bradley Chubb in the first round and Shane Ray coming back from injury, I would expect a significant decline in snaps and opportunities for the fifth-year player out of Colorado State.

Quotable

“I think continue on the same path. We knew from the first year to the second year what he was capable of doing. Shaq is a valuable outside rusher opposite of Von. Early in the season, I think the first game he came back he had that sack. That’s what we need out of him and also to be good against the run. I think just being in the system, learning some of the new things we’re doing and continuing to work out in the weight room—get bigger, stronger and faster—will help him. Just continuing to do the same things he has been doing.” — Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods on Barrett during his season ending press conference

Status

Barrett is a lock for the team’s final 53 man roster, but as mentioned earlier, don’t expect him to see a ton of snaps unless one of Denver’s premier players at outside linebacker misses time due to injury. Nevertheless, Barrett will be a key role player for the Broncos in 2018, just as he has been for his entire career.

The big question is whether or not the team will choose to keep him around long-term after selecting Chubb and signing former Auburn sack artist Jeff Holland as an undrafted free agent. There is no doubt he has the talent to be able to be a starter in this league and could very much prefer to go to a destination in free agency next year where he can receive more playing time.

Poll

Do you think Shaq Barrett will get a contract extension from the Broncos?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Yes
    (880 votes)
  • 18%
    No
    (375 votes)
  • 37%
    Depends on his 2018 season
    (750 votes)
2005 votes total Vote Now