Scouting and Anthony Barr

Posted: February 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 74 Comments »

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.

Here is a link to several Barr videos.


  • Baloophi

    If Nick Foles ever has to pound the pavement for work I think he’ll be in good shape. (Don’t share this with Trash Can!)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqJdzYY_Fas

    • Maggie

      Excellent!

    • sonofdman

      I don’t know. It is clear to anyone who can evaluate drumming talent that Foles was only playing simple beats. If he was ever in a band that depended on him playing more complicated beats on something other than a bucket he would clearly fail. And the parts where he was playing really fast may have looked an sounded really cool, but that was just the drumming equivalent of button mashing and he was lucky it ended up sounding good. Anyone who knows drumming knows that Joe Webb is a much better drummer.

  • Joe Minx

    Great post Tommy. When I look at a prospect I always want to see if they have thick thighs & a good bubble. :)

    Also Jeremiah Attaochu isn’t working out at the combine because of a partially torn hammy. Any chance that hurts his stock or changes how the Eagles may view him?

    • Insomniac

      I don’t think it’ll hurt his stock but it’ll probably annoy the fans. He’ll probably work out at his pro day.

      • D3FB

        Only way it may hurt his draft stock is he probably had to shut down alot of his lower body exercise and his 40 and agility training. If it lingers for another week or two he may have to almost start back from square one in his some of his training and the pro day is on March 28. Probably won’t have a huge impact but say he normally runs a 4.76 and runs a 4.81 instead. That may drop him a bit.

  • Baloophi

    RE: Barr

    I was in Westwood a couple months ago and popped by the practice field to do a little scouting on my own. Barr moves so quickly you can’t even see him!

    • deshawnbentley

      That 80 yard field hah. You’d think a top program/university would invest in a standard 100 yard field lol

      • Maggie

        That brings up an interesting point. Why do prospects run a 40 at all? What does that number have to do with any other distances on the field? Why not 50 or a 100? Just curious.

        • Eric Jensen

          (No factual evidence here) Probably because it is a reasonable “football distance” meaning it will show a player reaching peak speed, how fast they get there within a parameter that is relevant to the game. Running 50 or 100 yards will hardly ever happen in a game, so I figure 40 would be the limit of an average distance needed to cover in a game situation. It’s long enough to show they can maintain top speed without being too long. Just my thoughts I have no evidence to say this is correct

        • D3FB

          According to Wikipedia’s:

          The origin of timing football players for 40 yards comes from the average distance of a punt and the time it takes to reach that distance.[citation needed] Punts average around 40 yards in distance from the line of scrimmage, and the hangtime (time of flight) averages approximately 4.5 seconds. Therefore, if a coach knows that a player runs 40 yards in 4.5 seconds,
          he will be able to leave the line of scrimmage when a punt is kicked, and reach at the point where the ball comes down just as it arrives.

          Makes sense.

  • ACViking

    T-Law:

    This peek behind the curtain is magic. I’ve wondered for years what scouts look for. The rundown on Barr is a great foundation for beginning to translate scout-speak.

    In fact, now I’m going to call what I read from folks like Jeremiah, Mayock, and even Mel Kiper “Tommy-speak.”

    Your post is absolute platinum. Love it.

  • AJ Race

    tommy…very nice work friend…im recovering from surgery and this was a very informative way to spend a piece of my day plus i learned a little about scouting…as always keep up the great work

  • A_T_G

    I was going to comment on how interesting and informative I found this, but others have already said it better.

    • Baloophi

      Excellent restraint, A_T_G.

      • A_T_G

        In that case, I also didn’t comment that I would love to see Anthony become an Eagle, bar none.

        I just ruined it, didn’t I?

        • Baloophi

          On the contrary, I believe you just raised the barr.

  • Anders

    according to Zach Berman, the Eagles will go after top FAs if they think they are worth the money.

    aka JARIUS BYRD IS GOING TO BE AN EAGLE!!!!!!

    • Mac

      I think you’re kidding but…

      My main FA target would be Orakpo due to my belief in how hard it is to project guys to OLB. Also wouldn’t mind if they settle in on Marcus Benard.

      I’d like to see the Eagles make pitches toward Tillman or Taylor if either one becomes a cap casualty. Reason for getting one of these guys is lack of faith in Carry Williams, and Fletcher’s injury tendency, compounded by difficulty of starting even an elite rookie corner on the outside.

      • Tumtum

        Word on DC radio is that Orakpo is getting franchised if they can’t get a deal worked out.

        • Media Mike

          They’re not to smart with the money down there. 4 years / $20 million for DeAngelo Hall? I think I heard DeSean Jackson laughing from 20 miles away.

          • Tumtum

            I dunno he actually had an okay year. Works out to an average below C.Williams. Hate to say it but I am not sure which guy I would rather have. Really their secondary is such a hot mess, they make ours look really good. I shudder to think of what they would do with out him.

            On that note the Redskins are still pretty unsmart and I hates em!

          • Mac

            Yeah, I was afraid they wouldn’t let him slip away. Oh well, wishful thinking. And by him I mean Orakpo not Hall…lol

          • GEAGLE

            That’s one expensive candy bar..
            ..
            can’t wait to watch them blow their wad on Orakpo and Talib

      • Maggie

        Can’t do better than Tillman for character and he may have a year or two left to show whoever is drafted how to do the job.

      • GEAGLE

        I don’t see how the eagles sign a free Agent OLB til they shed one of the salaries of Barwin,Cole or BG. that’s a lot invested in one position..if none are cut, then the OLB will be drafted.

        I could see a scenario where we think Everson Griffin or Micheal Johnson type can be our OLB of the future, so we cut bait with BG and go after a free agent aggressively, but I can also see a case of someone in this organization wanting to FINALLY see BG play the same position, in the same scheme for the second year in a row, before they write him off.
        ..
        Seems like we can’t get out of Coles deal til next year, so BG is the key. if he is waived, then I fully expect us to sign a FA OLB. If he stays, that OLB will be drafted…if we sign a FA OLB before waiving BG, I think that means we will dump him for the best offer during the draft..
        .,.
        But trading for BG is complicated because he is an expiring contract, to get anything of value for him! a team would have to already know that they want to offer him an extension! and I don’t know what they could have seen in BG to be comfortable committing to him at a value he is ok signing for…

      • GEAGLE

        I would love to trade a 5th to Cleveland for Jabaal Sheard, but his contract expires at the end of the year so we would have to already be certain we want to extend him, which I doubt would happen..should have traded for him last year as soon as they drafted Mingo

    • Tumtum

      Well Howie said as much. He also said they would not over pay a player just because that is what the market bares. I think he was more stressing the point of not over paying a player based on need/FA class/draft class.

    • A_T_G

      That is quite a scoop Zach dug up. He must have great sources. Next week he will probably tell us that the Eagles organization will turn on the lights if they think it is dark.

      • Baloophi

        Though that would be a positive in that the previous leadership would expect the dark to prepare all week for us to turn on the lights and therefore leave them off.

        Then, afterwards, we’d hear the coach say he has to do a better job of putting the lamps in the right position to succeed.

        • A_T_G

          To be fair, they thought they saw I something there in the dark. Turned out it was just a chair in the corner.

          • Baloophi

            And also let’s give credit where it’s due: the dark did a heckuva job being the absence of light.

          • Michael Winter Cho

            They should have done a better job putting the chair in position to… uh, lost it!

    • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

      is a player who is always hurt worth the most money ever given at his position?

    • GEAGLE

      Florio has a story up that says Byrd will follow the Bills coach to Cleveland, and they would let Ward walk lol
      ..
      Local buffalo station says they may franchise him again so they can try trading him…wtf? What do they think they could get for a player a team has to give a 40million extension to immediately?

      • Anders

        Who says Byrd wanna follow Petitine? I bet he takes the highest bidder.

        • GEAGLE

          Lol Florio….I think it’s the dumbest thing I have heard in a long time…I dunno, I could see him take like 3 million less so he doesn’t have to go somewhere like Oakland ..hopefully we can front load a contract enough to pry him away

  • Joe Minx

    Apologies if this was mentioned already, but Josh Norris has us trading up to #12 (the Giants’ pick) for Barr in his latest mock.

    • http://twitter.com/ezgreene ezgreene

      What would it take to go up that far? Also, question for group. How does Barr compare with Dion Jordan from last year?

      • D3FB

        Dion was a better player in coverage, he looked more natural doing it, and was more experienced doing it. Both were productive if not polished edge rushers who dominated with superior athleticism. Both struggled at times when run at. I would rank them 1. Dion 2. Kiki Mingo 3. Barr 4. Mack. But they are all relatively close.

        • Tumtum

          So Barr is listed at the exact same weight as Dion Jordan. I didn’t like Jordan last year because he looked like Plaxico Burress. Am I allowed to have a man crush on Barr now? He does give up 2″ to Jordan…

          • D3FB

            Yes but you must consume many PBR’s as penance.

          • Baloophi

            The “same weight” argument reminds me of this classic logic…

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrzMhU_4m-g&t=1m35s

          • laeagle

            Who are you who are so knowledgeable in the ways of science?

          • Tumtum

            omfg. Barr weighs the same as Jordan. I don’t like Jordan because he looks like a WR that used to make me sad on Sundays, so Barr must be a witch.

            I’m so torn :(

    • GEAGLE

      I think that’s foolish. If he makes it past Ray Hortons titans, the next potential landing spot is Rex and the Jets(can they dare not take a pass catcher?)..We wouldn’t have to trade that far up to get him. #11 is key. So if you are going to trade all the way up to 12, you might as well try to get to 10 and secure him from the Titans…if they don’t take him, I think he is falling to Jets or Cardinals…don’t see how the other teams could take him….Miami can trade back to 22 and still get an OT, so that’s probably as high as I’d want to see them trade. Draft is too deep to be giving away picks

  • SteveH

    I have a question for you Tommy, since I am ignorant of how actual scouts operate. On the play that starts at 0:34, it looks like Barr gets handled by a single blocking LT fairly easily. I know a DE isn’t going to win every battle but how concerning is this when a scout sees it, and how often can it happen before it becomes concerning?

    • D3FB

      Tackles should win a good majority of the battles. What you can tell from that play is Barr tried to go with a bull rush, Fleming who is a decent prospect himself did a nice job of anchoring down. It looks like Barr then tried to work his way inside in the hopes of flushing Hogan into the spin move he hits quickly afterwards.

      So we now know that Barr doesn’t have the greatest bull rush, however it looks like he set himself up to fail a bit there. The stutter step head fake he throws before he tries to bull rush wipes out his momentum. That’s ok if you’re James Harrison and can just benchpress the OT back to the QB but Barr needs to understand at this point that’s not his game. If he wants to be more effective with his bull rush he needs to set it up with consistent speed rushes off the edge to get the tackle to be more concerned about his speed so that he doesn’t sink as heavy in his stance.
      I think as long as you see the player playing with lane integrity, which Barr does on this play, and throw some kind of pass rush move, it’s an acceptable play.

      • ACViking

        DSFB . . .

        Comments like these are like listening to Beethoven.

        • A_T_G

          To clarify for the younger readers, the musician, not the dog.

          • D3FB

            I do drool alot though…

          • Patrick

            This is why Igglesblitz is the best Eagles site out there. Don’t get me wrong, I liked your scouting of Barr, but when the comments go on crazy tangents and talk about the traits they share with Beethoven, thats when you get a site going.

            Oh and to expand on the whole Barr bull rush thing. Barr isn’t really a bull rusher, according to wiki he weighs 250 where James Harrison weighs 275 and is a whole 4 feet shorter. Not only will Barr, like all rookies, hopefully put on some muscle, but bull rushing isn’t where he wins his battles to begin with. I agree with D3FB that it was an acceptable play. Cant win em all.

          • Ark87

            It’s possible even the dog is before a young reader’s time, since that movie came out in 1992

          • A_T_G

            Yeah, true, but anyone born after 1995 is most likely unable to decipher a sentence that contains punctuation, so we should be safe.

        • D3FB

          Thanks,
          Its nice to be able to use the skills gained during countless film sessions where coaches (one of whom was a former Eagles scout) would rewind a receivers pre snap motion literally 8 times before even getting to the play…

        • Baloophi

          It’s God, talking to us through D3FB’s analysis…

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGSzeHKgHfI

  • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

    I just want WRs. at least 2. or a TE and a WR. plus a one of dri archer or de’anthoney thomas. time to invest draft picks into this offense and chip kelly. IMO. As for defense do it big in free agency.

  • SuPaFrO

    Any thoughts on James Gayle out of VT as a late round pick??

  • dislikedisqus

    Cool, thanks

  • Vick or Nick
    • A_T_G

      I thought this line from the article could have ended in so many ways:

      “Even though Foles threw 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions during the regular season, led the NFL with a 119.2 passer rating, went 8-2 in 10 starts and led the Eagles to the playoffs, there’s been a sense among fans and media that…”

      …as he walked on water, he wasn’t fast enough doing it.

      …Nick would be better if they could find a WR named Pedro.

      • Tumtum

        He would be better with a WR or TE named Pedro. At least he is still really good with a bow staff.

      • Maggie

        …NO quarterback will ever be able to lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl parade.

        • A_T_G

          That is just evil.

  • eagleyankfan

    and that’s why you’re the master and I’m the untrained eye. I look at that and say — gee, he didn’t separate himself from any other player on defense. I saw him get blown off the line of scrimmage right before he “should” have made a play on 25 in the backfield. Or on the play you mentioned where he turns and runs down the QB. I would have expected him to let that guy(wr) go because he’s not in man coverage and stay to be discipline. If he does that, he gets to the QB sooner. But exactly like you said, those are things you can teach.
    That’s why I’ll never be a scout — I’d never draft a player .. :).

  • GEAGLE

    I would be very surprised at this point if Barr got drafted in the top 15. high upside, but a flawed prospect who will be hurt by the style defenses of the teams drafting 11-20 range.

    He would be a prime candidate to play in Ray Hortons titans defense! but I have a feeling a top LT will fall to 11, and they won’t be able to pass him up.

    The Giants would be dumb to draft him, like Miami taking Dion. Giants have much more use for Kony,DTs,OTs

    Rams aren’t going to draft him, especially if they take Clowney earlier.

    bears play a 4-3, they have no use for him, already needing to play Shea McClain at LB.
    ..
    Dallas plays a 4-3 and they will do some dumb ish like spend their wad playing Jared Allen across from Ware. They need a safety,Ol,DL
    ..
    Steelers drafted Jarvis last year and probably extend Worlids before he hits the free agent market. the need OL, WR after they let Sanders walk, NT, safety!CB

    ravens need WR, and they most likely are drafting Cyrus Koudjou..Newsome loves them Alabama boys! and Oher or the other OT will walk, so at the very least they need one OT…I could see them drafting Cj Mosely before Barr..

    jets scare me. They should draft the best pass catcher, but Rex could find a falling defensive talent too tempting like with Sheldon last year.
    ..
    Miami has no choice but to go OT (we could probably trade up to this spot if we wanted to jump the cardinals…

    Think cardinals are a real possibility for Barr

    Expecting Greenbay to hope CJ Mosely falls to them…

    Barr and Mack are probably my fav prospects in this draft, but I still think trading out of round 1 should be top of our wish list. Rather trade out of round 1, then have Barr fall to us? Really hoping Niners offer us their two 2nds so they can move up and replace Whitner with a top safety like they did last year with Goldson and Reid. They Would still have their first for a WR. If Mosely falls to us, they may want to trade up because of Navarros injury.

    I’d be thrilled if we drafted Barr. he is similar to Dion so Chip and Azz will know what to do with him..I don’t know if he makes it to 22, but I definitely think he is in for a fall. Kony should have a monster combine and play his way into the second 4-3DE drafted spot, going as high as 6 to Atlanta. I think Vikings,Bucs,Giants,Cowboys would all rather have Kony then Barr..

  • Anders
    • A_T_G

      Wait, you can trade a coach?!

      Why wasn’t I informed about this 3 years ago?

      • holeplug

        Belichick and Gruden have been traded before

  • Insomniac

    Anyone else think the new grading scale on the official NFL site is kind of ridiculous?

  • ACViking

    Baloophi . . . you’re great.

    And never too many notes.

  • BreakinAnklez

    Thanks Tommy, that was great. I’m not gonna pretend to know what I’m talking about and was hoping to capitalize on the vast knowledge here, as usual, you delivered!

  • austinfan

    The biggest problem in scouting college players is the lack of good matchups that give you a measure of the player’s skills. My favorite was Fred-ex torching Fletcher in their bowl game, then they both went late in the 1st rd – turns out it was a mediocre WR beating a mediocre CB!

    Guys can look really quick against a LT who has feet that are too slow for the position in the NFL, then get exposed at the NFL level – which is why college production is no guarantee of NFL production – however, LACK of college production is a big red flag, if you can’t beat inferior athletes on a regular basis, well, . . .

    One reason juniors are dangerous is that they’re often coming off a big season where opposing coaches didn’t have enough film to game plan for them – whereas if you can put two seasons together back to back, you know that second year you were the focus of efforts to slow you down.

    I think the most important to note is the difference between innate talent and bad technique, if you haven’t had great coaching (but if you play for Alamaba or LSU on defense, and have bad technique, one suspects the player is at fault) you can learn footwork, hand use, pass rush moves, but you can’t learn to be bigger, quicker, tougher or have instincts.

    Good example is OL, guy may have inconsistent hand use, but if he has a powerful punch, I can drill him until it becomes second nature (and Eagles have that kind of OL coach), but if he isn’t a knee bender, that’s probably a lack of flexibility and it’s improbable that coaching will correct it.