Futures: UCLA OLB Anthony Barr
by Matt Waldman
Which one is not like the others? Aldon Smith. Dion Jordan. Anthony Barr. If you ask Nebraska Offensive Line Coach John Garrison orNFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, they’ll tell you Barr is stylistically similar to both players. While Jeremiah polled five NFL Execs with a question specifically framed to link Jordan and Barr, there are people in the NFL who see the outside linebacker from UCLA as a different style of player than the Dolphins’ rookie.
A current NFL employee who has worked with several teams in the player-personnel scouting arena doesn’t see the Barr-Jordan comparison as an accurate one.
“Barr is a bit of an enigma at this point, but a very gifted athlete. I like the versatility he shows. It’s hard to think of him as anything but a strong first-round prospect. At the same time he’s a tough read; definitely not cut and dried as to where he’ll fit best in the NFL. He was very raw last year and isn’t the same athlete as Dion Jordan,” he says, explaining that the 6-foot-3 Barr lacks the length and height of the 6-foot-6 Jordan. “I don’t see the same ceiling that Jordan has as a rusher, but Barr is more versatile and very capable of playing [outside linebacker] in the 3-4 at a high level. As far as body types and skill-sets, they’re pretty different. I think Barr is closer to a raw Clay Matthews or Brian Orakpo type.”
If a college player earns a first-round grade from NFL scouts based on junior film it usually means there’s a strong case he could be a top-10 pick. This is the case for Barr, who made the switch from fullback to linebacker last year and had an eye-catching rookie season at the position:
- 82 tackles
- 21 tackles for loss
- 14 sacks
- 4 forced fumbles
- 4 hurries
- 5 passes defensed
These are good numbers for a player who still has a lot to learn about the techniques and concepts of playing his new position. One of the big reasons is speed. This is what Smith, Jordan, and Barr have in common.