Good instincts considering his lack of time at linebacker
Huge upside, could be better as a pro
Bloodlines: father and three uncles played in the NFL
Great fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker
Still somewhat raw
Needs to develop more pass-rushing moves
Needs to get stronger against runs coming straight at him
Needs to improve his ability to shed blocks
Not a natural fit in a 4-3; tweener end/outside linebacker
Summary: Great coaching- that's the reason why Anthony Barr is a likely top-20 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Two years ago, Barr was an obscure fullback who had a total of 12 receptions across two seasons. When head coach Jim Mora, Jr and his staff was hired to takeover the UCLA program, Barr was moved to outside linebacker and Pac-12 quarterbacks felt the pain.
Much to the delight of Bruins fans, Barr was one of the best nation's pass-rushers for the past two year. He had a breakout 2012 season and was one of the nation's leader in sacks. The junior collected 13 sacks, 83 tackles, 21.5 tackles for a loss, five passes batted and four forced fumbles. His sack total was the second largest in the nation behind only Georgia's Jarvis Jones. Barr was a terror off the edge and ended Matt Barkley's collegiate career with vicious sack. Barr may have done the most to help himself during the 2012 season of any player in college football.
Barr showed good maturity by returning for his senior season, because he had room to improve before going to the pros. Early in the 2013, Barr helped lead a huge comeback win at Nebraska as he collected forced three fumbles, 11 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss. He soon stepped up with a big game against Oregon, recording four tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. A week before taking on the Ducks, the senior had eight tackles with a tackle for a loss against Stanford. In his penultimate game for the Bruins, he helped beat rival USC with five tackles, three tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two sacks. All told in 2013, Barr totaled 65 tackles with 20 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles and a pass batted.
Barr is still raw as an outside linebacker after only playing the position for two years. He has an amazing burst off the snap and the speed to burn tackles around the edge. Barr is very agile and athletic to dodge blockers and weave his way through the line to get to the quarterback. He has great closing speed and is a blur chasing down quarterbacks. Barr is also physical and puts quarterbacks into the ground hard. He has some strength to him and can fight with linemen to get free.
There are some areas of development that Barr needs to work on. As a pass-rusher, he needs to add and refine his moves. Barr also should get better at defending runs that come straight at him. He could do better at holding his ground and getting off blocks. For a 3-4 defense, Barr will need to get better at dropping into pass coverage, but he has the agility, speed and athleticism to get the job done. Barr still is raw as an outside linebacker after only playing the position for two years, so it shouldn't be alarming that he could use some time to improve.
Barr would be best in the NFL as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He is a natural to play on the right side and go against left tackles. For a 4-3 defense, Barr is a tweener defensive end/outside linebacker. Playing the Von Miller-in-Denver role would be his best fit in a 4-3. Another way Barr could be used would be as a Sam (strongside) linebacker on run downs and as a defensive end in passing situations.
Barr is a natural edge rusher who could easily develop into a double-digit sack artist and potential Pro Bowler. He should go in the top-20 picks of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Jason Taylor. Barr is unique, so it is tough to find a good comparison to among NFL players. Taylor (6-6, 245) is the most similar as they are nearly identical in size. Both are fast and fluid athletes who are dangerous pass-rushers while also operating well in space. Taylor was a third-round pick in 1997 out of Akron, but Barr figures to be a top-20 pick this May.
It isn't fair to Taylor or Barr to say that Barr will be as good as Taylor was. Taylor is sixth all-time in career sacks (139.5) and a future Hall of Famer. Barr should be a very good pro, but reaching Taylor's heights isn't a fair expectation. However, there is a common skill set and Barr could be used in a comparable manner to Taylor.
NFL Matches: Oakland, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Detroit, Tennessee, Chicago, Dallas, Pittsburgh, New York Jets, Arizona
There are a lot of landing spots for Barr in the top 20 of the 2014 NFL Draft. The highest he could hope to go would be to the Raiders with the fifth pick. Oakland needs some play-making youth in the pass-rush department. Dennis Allen could use Barr in the same way he used Von Miller in Denver in 2011. However, Oakland drafted Sio Moore last year and signed Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley this offseason. It seems more likely that the Raiders will use No. 5 on a different position.
The Falcons pick sixth and are said to be fans of Barr. Atlanta could easily pull the trigger on him if Khalil Mack is off the board and the team hasn't traded up for Mack or Jadeveon Clowney.
The Buccaneers also need a pass-rusher, but Barr is a poor fit for Lovie Smith's defense. In St. Louis and Chicago, Smith didn't use his linebackers as pass-rushers, so Tampa Bay would have to carve out a new role for Barr.
Minnesota also runs a 4-3, but Mike Zimmer has liked to have a pass-rushing outside linebacker. There have been reports linking the Vikings to Barr, and he could help replace Jared Allen. Staying in the NFC North, Detroit could consider Barr to help its edge rush. The Lions want a 3-4 edge-rushing type to go on the other side from Ziggy Ansah, but the organization's first-rounder is more likely to address other needs.
The Titans have switched to a 3-4 defense and could use an edge rusher to lead their defense. Shaun Philips is only a short-term acquisition, while Kam Wimbley may not be around much longer.
There have been reports linking Chicago to Barr. While he isn't a great scheme fit, hiss speed and athletic ability fit the type Phil Emery has drafted in the past. Barr is in play for the Bears. Just like Chicago, Barr isn't a great scheme fit for Dallas, but the Cowboys also need a young edge rusher to replace DeMarcus Ware.
Pittsburgh drafted Jarvis Jones last year, but the team has shown a lot of interest in Barr. He could be too good for the Steelers to pass up. Barr and Jones could be lethal duo.
The Jets and Cardinals also could use a young edge rusher for their defenses. If Barr fell to either of them, he would be a great value. Barr would be an awesome fit as a replacement for John Abraham in the desert.