Simply put, the Eagles should trade up for Anthony Barr because he’s worth it. Yes, he’s worth giving up a second or third round pick in a draft where the Eagles already have a limited number of picks.
I’m sure this idea will be met with resistance because nobody wants to give up a premium pick in a loaded draft. Hell, I’d still be hesitant to pull the trigger, but there’s something about the thought of landing a prospect like Barr that really intrigues me.
First, let’s start with the obvious. Barr is a gifted athlete who plays the position of biggest need for the Eagles. He has the talent and production to go along with the mental and physical characteristics of a player who projects extremely well to the NFL.
I’m sure you’ve seen his stats and measurables (from mockdraftable.com) by now, but here they are again:
Height: 6′ 5″
Arm Length: 33½”
Hand Size: 9⅜”
10 Yard Dash: 1.56
40 Yard Dash: 4.66
Bench Press: 15
Vertical Jump: 34½”
Broad Jump: 119″
3 Cone Drill: 6.82
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.19
Agility Score: 11.01
In two seasons as an Outside Linebacker, he posted 41 tackles for a loss, 23 sacks, and 10 forced fumbles per CFB Stats.
Now, let’s get to all of the reasons as to why he’s worth trading up for. I’ve gathered quotes from numerous sources on the subject of Anthony Barr so as to show you how overwhelmingly he is projected as a top tier OLB with the potential of becoming a “special” player…
Scouting report from NFLDraftScout:
STRENGTHS: Perhaps most impressive qualities are Barr’s balance, lateral agility and acceleration, which he uses to break down in the open field as well as when exploding into ballcarriers for ferocious hits.Freakish combination of size and athleticism. Possesses long arms, extraordinary burst off the ball and explosive closing ability — a terrifying combination that gives him an immediate advantage over pass-blockers. Developing swim move to complement his speed, and possesses the strength and use of leverage to effectively bull-rush.Followed up breakout junior season with another standout campaign despite facing constant double-team attention. Causes holding penalties due to his athletic motor and power to rip through blocks.
WEAKNESSES: Still developing as a run defender. Will be tested in coverage if working as a stand-up linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Raw as a two-year player on the defensive side of the ball in coverage, and will need to pick up NFL schemes quickly to be more than a situational pass rusher as a rookie.Compares To: Demarcus Ware, Cowboys — To develop into the all-around performer that Ware has become, however, Barr will need to show better leverage and overall physicality, especially when offenses run his direction.
But, let’s not stop here. Let’s hear what some others say about Barr as an overall prospect…
Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated has him as the sixth best player in the draft:
A glimpse into the NFL crystal ball offers a vision of Barr as a dominant, pass-rushing force for the next decade. How long it takes that prophecy to come to fruition is anyone’s guess.
Strengths: Spectacularly quick off the edge, and flashes the ability to bend well when trying to turn the corner around blockers. Puts his speed to use once he works free of blockers, closing on QBs in a hurry. Chases the ball well — 83 tackles in 2012 and 66 in ’13, many coming with Barr pursuing to the far side of the field. Deceptive strength both as a tackler and in fighting off blocks.
Barr’s willingness to shift from running back to receiver to H-back and finally to linebacker highlights his coachability, a factor NFL teams pay very close attention to during the draft process. Barr also speaks honestly about the areas in which he needs to improve.
Coveted size for an edge player. Once he develops a little better feel for his timing, Barr will be difficult to throw passes over or around because of his length. Some room to add bulk, though he said at the combine that he feels most comfortable at his current weight.
Barr took to the OLB job as well as UCLA could have hoped, with the production occurring quickly. If he were to jump into an NFL game today, Barr would be a threat for multiple sacks. Given mini-camps, training camp and the preseason to bring his game along, and Barr should be ready to contribute early. Wait another year or two, and we might be talking about one of the league’s premier pass rushers.
Bucky Brooks from NFL.com when comparing Barr and Khalil Mack:
With higher upside, Barr an easy choice
I’m a big Anthony Barr fan. Think about what he has been able to accomplish in only two years playing on the defensive side of the ball — 158 tackles, 41.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. I think he’s a natural pass rusher at the next level and will be dominant. You put him as an OLB in a 3-4 defense and let him go. He’ll be a double-digit sack artist. Mack is much more NFL-ready at this point, but in three years I don’t think it will be even close.
Bryan Fischer from College Football 24/7 (also comparing Barr and Mack):
Barr’s ceiling far higher than Mack’s
As always, it depends on the situation each player winds up in, but I’ll lean toward Barr. It’s not just the level of competition that factors in, but the fact Barr’s ceiling is so much higher. A lot of folks make a big deal about him only playing linebacker for two years, but he nearly matched Mack’s four-year sack total and had more than 20 tackles for loss each season. He has the production, the size and the ability to develop into a Pro Bowl player at the next level.
From Russe Lande of Sports On Earth (written in January)…
After all the evaluating, Barr will almost assuredly be a top-10 pick in the 2014 draft. Right now he would be a good pass-rushing outside linebacker, and if he becomes more consistent in the areas scouts have concerns about, he could become a great player who changes games like Lawrence Taylor did from his outside linebacker alignment. When you look at his combination of elite athleticism, great character, work ethic and leadership, I’m confident that he will improve enough to become a top NFL player.
Tired of hearing from only analysts? Here’s what his head coach at UCLA (Jim Mora) had to say about him…
UCLA head coach Jim Mora, who encouraged Barr to switch from running back to linebacker when Mora replaced fired Rick Neuheisel after the 2011 season, sometimes can’t come up with enough superlatives when he talks about Barr’s play on the field and his character off it.
“He’s the best player on our team and the hardest worker on our team,” Mora says. “He’s a great leader who does it with his actions, his work ethic, his attitude, his commitment. In my opinion, and I haven’t seen everyone in the country, but there is nobody I’d take over Anthony Barr, and I spent 28 years in the NFL and I have a real clear understanding what they’re looking for from football character to personal character. He’s an A-plus in everything.”
Here’s a quote from an NFL Personnel Executive via Daniel Jeremiah who was asked the question of which 2014 NFL draft prospect had the most impressive intangibles:
Executive No. 1: UCLA LB Anthony Barr
“He’s a team captain and he’s an off-the-charts worker. He’s all football, all the time. He works his butt off in the weight room. He’s very bright and you never have to worry about him off the field.”
And how about this ESPN “Sports Science” breakdown of Barr (click link to see video):
For his workout, Barr maneuvers through some heavy bags, weaves around some agility poles and lays out a dummy loaded up with sensors.
And just how hard is the impact? Barr delivers a blow of more than 2,200 pounds of force, or the equivalent of being kicked by a horse. Of course, watching the video evokes images of one of Barr’s more iconic hits.
I sure would love seeing NFC East quarterbacks getting “kicked by a horse” when they play the Eagles!
The iconic hit that was referred to is this:
The folks who did the breakdown on Barr graded him out extremely close to players like DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller and better than Luke Kuechly. And what better than “sports science” to make an impression on Chip Kelly?
If all of that doesn’t get you excited about a draft prospect at a premium position that happens to be the Eagles’ largest need, I don’t know what will.
Again, I realize that the Eagles only have six picks in a draft that has been proclaimed as the deepest in the past decade. Therefore, logic would dictate that they should try to get more picks, not trade away one and end up with less.
However, if there is one prospect that could both be in the Eagles’ reach and would be worth giving up their second or third round pick for, it’s Anthony Barr.
There’s been some buzz lately about Barr’s draft stock falling, mostly because of his lack of experience on defense and questions about his instincts. Todd McShay and Mel Kiper reflect this buzz by dropping Barr all the way to 30 and 25 respectively in their latest mock drafts.
There is no way in hell Barr will last that long!
The one thing most draftniks will tell you is to not believe anything you hear this time of year when it comes to a prospect’s supposed draft stock. Prior to all this “stock falling” talk, Barr was typically thought to not last any longer than going 11th overall to the Titans.
He’ll probably make it out of the top 10, but all bets are off after that. If the Eagles want him, they’ll have to trade up in order to secure him. The further Barr slides, the more likely he becomes attractive to other teams trading up for him (the 49ers???).
If you’re worried about the fact that Barr only has two years experience on the defensive side of the ball, look no further than last year’s first round pick Lane Johnson.
Johnson was a quarterback in high school, then played tight end and defensive end during his first two years of college before switching to offensive line. Once he found his niche, he started to excel and now looks like he’ll be a good pro for a long time.
Same for Jason Peters. Peters spent time at defensive tackle before switching to tight end for most of his college career. He didn’t even start learning the offensive line position until he entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent.
Now he’s a 6-time pro bowler and 2-time All Pro.
The similarities between Johnson, Peters and Barr are that they are all gifted athletes who are highly coachable but just took a little longer before finding their best position.
After Barr, the overall talent level and potential at the OLB position has a significant dropoff. Marcus Smith would be the next best player the Eagles could get as far as talent, versatility and scheme fit, but will he still be on the board at pick 54?
And is the ceiling for Smith or any other OLB prospect taken after Barr be as high as Barr’s?
Ultimately, I’m not saying the Eagles will or even should trade up for Barr. What I’m saying is that it should be considered, perhaps strongly considered. I would certainly be okay with it if they did and maybe only slightly disappointed if they didn’t (will depend on how the draft goes).
One thing is for sure, the Eagles have done their homework on him. They both worked Barr out as well as brought him in for a pre-draft visit. Therefore, they certainly have some level of interest in him.
Whether or not they covet him enough to trade up for is another thing, but we’ll see.
The last time the Eagles drafted a Linebacker in Round 1 was back in 1979 when a still fresh out of college head coach by the name of Dick Vermeil took a UCLA Linebacker by the name of Jerry Robinson with the 21st overall pick to help lead his 3-4 defense.
Robinson went on to have a stellar Eagles career which included helping lead them to a Super Bowl as well as becoming a Pro Bowler and All Pro.
The situation back then closely resembles the situation now. Could history repeat itself?
If the Eagles do look to trade up for him, the slots to watch for would be 12 – 15. The reason for doing it is if you believe Barr will become a special player.
I believe he will, which is why I’d be willing to sacrifice a second round pick to get him.
For your viewing pleasure, click here for some Anthony Barr highlights that show you why he can become a special player.