October 12, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) defends against the California Golden Bears during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions 2014 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Anthony Barr


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

Strong Points:

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.       

Weak Points:

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.

Summary:

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.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Anthony Barr Detroit Lions

  • Alex

    Barr would not fit at RDE. If you watch him on tape, he rarely ever plays from the 3 point stance, and looks bad trying. They could very well try to have him play there, but he’s most effective from the two point stance, which leads me to believe we would have to use him like a Von Miller as a hybrid 4-3 OLB pass rusher that drops into coverage every so often.

    • Ackerman

      Certainly moving Barr to RDE is a projection (as I noted in my report). However that doesn’t mean that a prospect won’t excel in a scheme different to what they played in college, particularly when they have rare athletic characteristics like Barr. There are countless examples of players who have shown the versatility to change schemes at the next level and be successful: Aldon Smith (DE to OLB), Cameron Wake (OLB to DE) and our own Ziggy Ansah (3-4 to 4-3) just to name a few.

  • straw walker

    An impact player, a little rough around the edges, that often over extends on plays because of his aggressive nature. Really is a good tackler. Would be an immediate help for the Lions especially as they are planning a 3/4 defense. The Lions need a pass rusher badly. He is a ball hawk almost always around the ball, Has great speed when he overplays to comeback and make a tackle, His speed forces fumbles.
    I would pick him in a second as the 10 spot.

    • Alex

      We are keeping a 4-3 defense. Also disagree on him being an immediate impact. I’d see them using him in a Dion Jordan type role. Too raw with little pass rushing skills. He’d need to develop and I don’t see him winning on pure speed like he did at UCLA.

    • ShopdeRack

      I’m with you, straw walker – I’d take this kid in a heart beat.

  • Chris Wyman’s Sport Page

    If he bulked up he wouldn’t be a LB he’d be a DE and he would be slower with the added weight. He’s not a good NFL prospect.

  • William Rhoads

    Yes I agree this is the best choice at ten! Barr would be in day one impact player!

  • calvinfan33

    Barr has a rare, raw talent – he just needs some time in an NFL program. With the right coaching there’s no question he’ll be a top player.