Breaking Down How UCLA OLB Anthony Barr Must Improve for 2014 NFL Draft

BBD Staff Writer: Joe Marino

After spending his first two seasons at UCLA playing running back and “F-back”, Barr made the switch to outside linebacker for his junior year. The statistical results were very strong. Barr finished the 2012 season with 83 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. He was the Pac-12 conference leader in sacks and was a first team all-conference selection by the coaches.

Despite his great statistical season and having a major impact on the Bruin defense, Barr is still incredibly raw and has several areas of his game to improve to convince scouts he is a top player in the 2014 NFL draft.

Why You Should Watch Barr

Anthony Barr is an elite speed rusher off the edge. He comes off the ball extremely quick, and can run the arc. He has an incredible ability to properly time and execute stunts. The pressure he brings is timely and leads to errant throws in big situations. He contains the quarterback very well on rollouts to his side.

He bends well to get around tackles and applies pressure while staying very low to the ground.

Barr is a high-energy player who flies around the field. He has tremendous athletic ability.

What He Needs To Prove In 2013

Barr needs to prove he is not just a speed rusher off the edge. At this point, every other aspect of his game is raw and undeveloped.

Barr struggles to make plays in space and often whiffs on ball carriers. He is a “see and chase” type player as opposed to a “read and react” player. That said, he still struggles to shift through blockers and locate the football.

Barr is consistently driven off the ball by blockers, which creates huge running lanes for ballcarriers. He needs to become more physical with blockers and use his hands better. He struggles to disengage from blockers and his technique needs polish.

Despite having great speed of the edge, Barr’s repertoire of pass rush moves needs to expand. A large percentage of his sacks come from a well-timed stunt or beating his blocker with speed. He has no counter move if the speed rush isn’t there. He often gets stoned by running backs in pass protection.

At this point, he is not a great tackler. He almost seems afraid to get on the ground. You will often see him grabbing ball carriers and pulling them to the ground instead of wrapping up, driving his hips, and bringing them down.

Anthony Barr’s instincts are very questionable at this point. He is slow dissecting plays and locating the football. He truly looks like an offensive player trying to play defense.

His pass coverage is average. Many times his drops in coverage are not deep enough and several balls are completed over his head. He doesn’t always pick up the player in his zone quick enough which lead to a lot of receptions for his man.

Barr played at a slender 235 pounds last season, and would benefit from adding 10-20 additional pounds. (Editor’s Note: He is currently listed at 245 pounds by UCLA’s official website.)

Projecting Anthony Barr’s draft stock

I keep seeing Anthony Barr very high in early draft rankings. I agree with the potential of him being a high first-round pick but I feel he has a lot to prove to solidify that status.

The good news for Barr is that he has the entire 2013 season to prove his development as a linebacker and show he is more than just a speed rusher. He is someone to watch very closely this season to see if he improves and finds himself as a first-round pick.