The SideLion Report Detroit Lions NFL Draft Prospect Profile series gives an in-depth scouting analysis of college football players who could be on the Lions’ radar this spring.
Lions’ General Manager Martin Mayhew recently attended UCLA’s pro day presumably to get a closer look at Anthony Barr, the heralded outside linebacker who has experienced a drop in most mock drafts after a somewhat disappointing performance at the NFL combine. Barr bettered his 4.66 40 time at the combine with an impressive 4.44, which was more in line with expectations for the former running back turned defensive star.
After viewing four games (Nebraska, Oregon, USC, Virginia Tech), I gave Barr an 8.5 grade (1st round, 6-14 range). Here’s an excerpt from his scouting report:
Anthony Barr, OLB/DE, UCLA
Height: 6047 Weight: 255 40 Time: 4.66
NFL Comparison: Aldon Smith
Ideal height and length with long arms. Possesses outstanding athletic attributes for the position: upper echelon speed with rare movement skills. Effective pass rusher – quick first step and acceleration to consistently threaten the corner. Fluid enough to drop and cover. Explosive close. Playmaker. Good motor. High character.
Is lean and will need to add bulk. Lacks core strength and can get washed out on contact vs. runs at him. Pass rush arsenal is limited – needs to improve hand usage. Struggles converting speed to power. Lacks experience on defensive side of the ball and is still acquiring position skills. Has a tendency to bite on play fakes.
A former running back, Barr is still learning to play on the defensive side of the ball after only two seasons at OLB. His outstanding production in those two seasons (23 sacks, 41 TFL) is a testament to his rare athleticism. Barr’s combination of size and exceptional quickness, fluidity and body control provide him the versatility to get to the quarterback from a variety of fronts. At this point in his development, his best fit is as an OLB in a 34 front, as he struggles to hold the point versus the run. Given his rapid improvement, it’s easy to project him as a three down RDE in a 4-3 after he spends time in an NFL strength program. Overall, a player with Barr’s rare athleticism, competitiveness and high football character provides him with the upside to be effective in multiple schemes. First round, top ten pick with All-Pro caliber ceiling.
The question for the Lions with respect to Barr will be what position they’d project him to play in their 4-3 scheme. It’s possible they could be considering him to replace Palmer at SLB, though his limited experience in coverage presents risk in terms of his projection as a three-down player. It’s more likely they’re contemplating him at right defensive end, while moving the sturdier Ansah to the left side. Regardless, Barr has the athleticism and intangibles to excel in a variety of schemes.