I keep saying that there is no way LB Anthony Barr falls to 22, but there are some who believe he could be in for a slide like that. Why would he slide? Is he really that good of a player? Some of you are excited by him possibly falling, while others want to know if he’s a guy the Eagles should still be interested in.
I like Anthony Barr. A lot. Let’s start with the numbers.
arm – 33 1/2
hand – 9 3/8
40 – 4.66
BP – 15 reps
VJ – 34.5
BJ – 119 inches
3-cone – 6.82
SS – 4.19
2012 – 21.5 TFLs (13.5 sacks)…5 pass deflections…4 FFs…1 blocked kick
2013 – 20 TFLs (10 sacks)…1 pass deflection…5 FFs…
As you can see, Barr is a gifted athlete and a productive player on the field.
Barr played RB for his first couple of seasons at UCLA. He is the son of former Eagles RB Tony Brooks. While Brooks didn’t have much of an NFL career, those are still good bloodlines to come from. I’m sure Barr wanted to be a RB like his dad. Coach Jim Mora had the wisdom to move Barr to OLB in 2012 and the rest is history.
One concern with Barr is his offensive background. Does he have the right mentality for defense? People watch his game tape and don’t see a player that tries to physically dominate on every snap. That turns off some coaches and scouts. Barr isn’t the kind of player who will just take over a game. If you watch Khalil Mack vs Ohio State, you see a guy who put his team on his back and did everything he could in that game. Barr isn’t that same kind of guy.
I do wonder if coaching and scheme isn’t partially a factor. Watch Barr play and you’ll see him play under control most of the time. Watch Dee Ford for contrast. On most snaps, Ford flies off the edge, semi-out of control. Barr picks and chooses the spots where he’s going to really fly off the edge. You wonder if some of this was by design. With the read option and mobile QBs being so prevalent these days, Barr might have been told to slow down, read plays and keep things to the inside.
When you do see Barr fly off the edge, he is really hard to block. He gave OTs fits with his speed and explosion. You would think he could do this play after play if he wanted or the coaches told him to.
One of the reasons I like Barr so much is that he can bend and turn. Many DEs/LBs have a quick first step. They can get off the ball and up the field in a hurry. Special players can get low to get under the block of the OT and then turn to the inside to get to the QB. Even though Barr is 6-5, he does this well. That translates to the NFL.
I also love the fact that he has 9 FFs in 2 years. Strip-sacks are impact plays. Getting to the QB is one thing. Getting there and knocking the ball out is ideal. That generally means the rusher is catching the QB by surprise and the ball is still exposed. This is another part of Barr’s game that bodes well for NFL success.
Barr isn’t a great run defender. He needs to learn to use his hands better. Barr tends to do things with his shoulder. That’s the natural instinct, but it has to be coached out of him. You want defenders to engage blockers with their hands. You don’t want blockers getting into the defender’s body. There needs to be separation so that the defender can disengage from the block and get in on the play.
People who don’t like Barr will see him as a finesse player. I see a guy who needs coaching. I don’t see a player who avoids contact. Barr simply needs to work on how to take on blockers and then shed them.
Barr would be an ideal fit for the Eagles. He has the size that Chip Kelly covets. Barr would be perfect to slide in at ROLB. He has the kind of explosive athleticism that would help him to beat LTs on a consistent basis. If something happened to Connor Barwin, the Eagles could slide Barr to LOLB and play him opposite of Trent Cole. Barr is big enough and athletic enough for the left side.
The Eagles could move him around if they wanted. Barr can line up over a slot receiver. He can line up as an ILB and rush up the middle or twist to the outside. He can drop back into coverage. Barr is a gifted pass rusher, but he’s athletic enough to play in space and do a solid job on those plays when you want to mix things up to confuse the opposing offense.
You can bet that Jerry Azzinaro and Bill McGovern would have a lot of work to do. They would have Barr hitting the sled every day and working on his hand use. They would drill into him how they wanted him to take on blocks. The raw potential is there, Barr simply needs work.
I will be shocked if Barr slides to 22. I just can’t see that happening. I sure hope it does. The Eagles better run to the podium in record time if he’s there. Barr is the kind of LB who can make plays in the NFL. The Eagles need an impact rusher and Barr could be that guy.
You see impact plays vs Oregon.
Here he is against Stanford. This isn’t an ideal matchup for Barr because he’s more pass rusher than run defender, but he still impacts the game.
I would be ecstatic if the Eagles could get Barr at 22.