The other day I did a post on Auburn DE/LB Dee Ford. Included in the post was a video by the guys at Draft Breakdown. A reader watched the video and came away unimpressed. He essentially said, “What am I supposed to be impressed by?”
I don’t have the time to explain what to look for in regard to every prospect and their videos, but let’s walk through one together. I’ve chosen LB Anthony Barr from UCLA. Some fans think he could slide far enough for the Eagles to get him or to trade up and get him. I don’t see that happening, but I’d certainly love to have a talent like him at OLB.
Here is the video.
Before we start, let’s talk about some generic scouting points. Understand that you are trying to identify good pro football prospects. You aren’t looking for purely college accomplishment. We would then just go to the stats page if that was the case. Scouting is as much about how as it is what. A player can go without a sack in a game and still have dominated. Did he occupy multiple blockers on a regular basis? Did the other team gameplan around him? Maybe they threw only short passes. Maybe they avoided rollout plays, which could be a big deal if that is part of their offense. Maybe the rusher got enough pressure to affect the QB even if he didn’t sack or even hit him.
Results are important, but how a player played is the most important factor.
Also, we’re not looking for a polished NFL player. We’re looking for a prospect with the right combination of football skills, size, strength and athleticism to become a good pro football player.
Okay, let’s talk about the video.
* On the first snap, Barr engages the TE, shoves him back, disengages and then gets into the backfield. He didn’t make the play since the ball didn’t come his way, but that was an impressive start. You saw a good burst. You saw strength. Barr used his hands well. Good stuff.
* The 3rd play has Barr in space. He doesn’t accomplish anything since it is a downfield throw, but watch his footwork as he moves around. You can see he is an agile LB that moves well.
* The play at the :45 mark is impressive. He attacks the QB and misses the shovel pass to the RB. But look at the burst he shows as he goes for the QB. That is impressive. This is what I mean by focusing on a player’s skills/ability more than the result of the specific play. NFL coaches can teach Barr how to read keys, but they can’t teach Joe Schmoe how to be more explosive.
* At the 1:05 mark of the video, Barr comes upfield and takes on a blocker. He uses his shoulder. Coaches would probably rather have him use his hands so he could shed the blocker and get in on the play. That can be coached. The good nugget here is that Barr aggressively took on the blocker. He’s not just a “run around” guy. Some rushers have a tendency to run around blocks, thinking they can get by the guy and make the play. Those guys take themselves out of the play about half the time. That’s doing the offense a favor.
* The play at the 1:15 mark once again shows good speed. He also shows body control and COD (change of direction) ability. Barr wasn’t smooth as he did this, but he was able to turn and pursue. Some speed guys are straight line. They struggle to turn and chase.
* At the 1:50 mark you see Barr in coverage. He closes on the underneath receiver almost instantly and then is athletic enough to turn and chase the play out wide. He eventually gets in on the tackle.
At the end of the 1st quarter, Barr hasn’t yet hit the QB on a dropback pass, but he’s shown the elements of being a good pass rusher. We’ve seen quickness, speed, body control, COD ability and closing speed. These are the traits of a good NFL pass rusher. That’s what we’re looking for.
Luckily we have 3 more quarters to see Barr in action, as well as plenty of other games. There is no question that he’s a gifted pass rusher and dynamic athlete. I’d love him to be an Eagle. I just don’t think that is likely.
Are there concerns? Sure. All prospects have issues. I’ll discuss Barr in-depth in a full post. For now I just wanted to walk you through part of a video to give you an idea of what I’m seeing.