Anthony Barr 2014 NFL Draft preseason scouting report

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago Barr was just learning to play linebacker, now he's one of the top prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft class.

Anthony Barr | 6'4, 238 pounds | Outside linebacker | UCLA | Senior

2012 Stats: 60 tackles, 22 assisted tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 4 forced fumbles

If you liked Oregon linebacker Dion Jordan, Anthony Barr will be your cup of tea.

The NFL is trending towards passing attacks that deploy athletic tight ends, so a linebacker's ability to cover in space is more important than ever. Barr fits the mold.

A former running back, Barr started playing linebacker at 2012 spring practice for UCLA. The Bruins couldn't have imagined a better transition, as Barr emerged as one of the most dangerous pass rushers in the PAC-12, collecting 13 sacks and 21 tackles for loss.

Barr still has work to do. With only a year at linebacker under his belt, there are a few things he could clean up. But given how new he is to the position, Barr is in great shape moving forward.

What he does well

Barr's best traits are things you can't teach. He's explosive off the snap and has the closing speed to cover a ton of ground on defense. He also has ideal size and length to play outside linebacker and has an understanding of how to use it, playing with leverage in the running game.

His quickness also helps him get inside penetration. Agility is a crucial aspect of his game, whether he's closing on a ball carrier in the backfield or beating a blocker to the inside. He also shows off a nice spin move when rushing the passer, further pointing to his athletic ability.

When dropping back in coverage, Barr has fluid hips and a ton of awareness. He uses his long arms to get into passing lanes and closes on the ball in a hurry. He has the quickness to keep up with most tight ends, and did a solid job against Zach Ertz of Stanford last season.

What he needs to improve on

While the Dion Jordan comparisons are rampant, Barr doesn't quite have the flexibility to bend around the edge when rushing the passer that Jordan displayed during his time at Oregon. That's something Barr can develop. He has the physical tools, it comes down to understanding how to use them when edge rushing.

Along the same lines, Barr needs to be more active with his hands when getting after the passer in an effort to keep offensive tackles out of his body. That's something that will come with more experience playing the position. He has long arms and is strong, but when he lets a player get into his frame, he has to rely too much on his upper body strength. It's an important step in the development of a pass rusher.

Bottom line

Barr may have been a top 10 talent if he had declared for the 2013 NFL Draft. He's a bit rough around the edges, but with another year to develop, there's no reason why he can't maintain that standing in the 2014 class. He has the physical tools that can't be coached and has shown development in areas that can be coached. Defensive coordinators will be smitten with the possibilities Barr presents on defense.

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