As a whole, the UCLA Bruins defense took a major step forward in 2012 under new Head Coach Jim Mora. Players like Anthony Barr are a major reason why. Originally an offensive player, Barr recorded 9 catches and started four games as a freshman and continued to play offense his sophomore year with 7 starts but only 3 receptions. With Jim Mora bringing in a new defensive scheme, Barr was immediately switched over to the other side of the ball where he exploded and became one of the best defensive players in the country. As a junior, he started all 14 games and was named first team All-Pac 12 as well as a second team All-American at his new outside linebacker spot. Barr led the Bruins with 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss while finishing second on the squad with 83 tackles. With one year of starting on defense under his belt, Anthony Barr will be looking to improve and build upon his stellar junior year as he enters his senior season.
For his size, Anthony Barr looks remarkably fluid in coverage. While he looks unsure of his assignment or what he’s seeing at times, he’s able to turn and run with backs out of the backfield as well as the occasional tight end up the seam. He’s able to change directions pretty quickly in zone coverage. Barr also was able to get his hands on the ball as he had 5 pass break-ups in limited opportunities to do so.
Understandably, this is an area where Barr has not quite developed yet. When watching him on tape you can see him taking time to diagnose some things whether it’s the action in the backfield or pass patterns developing. He does have trouble locating the ball in the backfield on play-fakes. Numerous times he wasn’t able to locate the ball on misdirection plays whether it was on end arounds, bootlegs, or options.
Anthony Barr is going to need time to develop pass rush moves. The raw talent is there. His first step is incredibly quick and he’s able to beat a lot of tackles just by using his explosiveness to get around them. Frequently he’ll try to fake to the inside and get the tackle to over-sell and then slip past him around the outside. He also is able to dip his shoulder and gain some leverage. However, that won’t always be effective at the next level as tackles will be less likely to over extend as frequently. As long as he keeps the motor he’s displayed so far through one year however, he’ll always have a chance to be in the QB’s lap.
Pursuit/Lateral Movement & Agility
He is able to change directions remarkably well and he doesn’t waste much movement doing it. Barr is extremely efficient picking his way through traffic in order to get to the ball carrier. One of my favorite parts about Anthony Barr is his motor and effort. He will never take a play off and he’s constantly running all over the field. He’ll willingly chase plays down from the backside and chase ball-carriers across the field.
The quickness of Barr immediately pops off the screen at you. Not many OLB and pass rushers have his kind of first step and overall foot quickness. At times, you have to remind yourself you are watching a linebacker and not a safety. Barr was recently reported to run a 4.47 40 yard dash for scouts, the athleticism is clearly there. He’s not just straight-line fast. His ability to be quick through traffic is a very nice trait.
Run Defense/Ability to Shed Blocks
Barr tends to play too high in this facet of the game. At 6’4″ he needs to lower his pad level and get better leverage. It looks like he’s trying at times but he tends to just lower his head and not keep his eyes up. With that being said, he does do a good job of extending and locking his arms to keep the blocker at bay and keep his eyes on the ball carrier. The problem is he doesn’t always do a great job of getting off that block cleanly. He needs to develop more active hands in order to consistently shed blocks.
Anthony Barr is an interesting player to evaluate. The obvious physical talent is there. It jumps off the screen at you actually. However, he’s incredibly raw and needs major technique work. He made the wise decision to come back for his senior season and he’ll likely use that time and extra experience to develop the finer points of being a pass rusher. He really needs to learn how to use his hands better in general, whether it be rushing the passer or shedding blockers in the run game. He also needs to develop counter moves while rushing the passer. Too often if he didn’t beat the tackle with quickness, he was stuck. However, with his natural athleticism and motor he’s going to continue to be a major impact player for the UCLA Bruin defense. As long as he builds off of his natural talent, he should end up squarely in the first round. A team very well could fall in love with his physical gifts and see him as a lump of clay to be molded and draft him in the top 10 to be either a 3-4 OLB or a weakside LB in a 4-3 defense.
The post Player Snapshot: Anthony Barr OLB UCLA appeared first on NFL Draft Zone.