Philadelphia Eagles Draft Countdown: Making the Case for LB Anthony Barr

Bryn Swartz@eaglescentralSenior Writer IIIApril 14, 2014

UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, left, tries to get by Southern California offensive tackle Chad Wheeler during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill

The NFL draft is less than a month away, and mock drafts are flying all over the place. 

For the Philadelphia Eagles, the majority of experts agree that the team could draft either a wide receiver or a defensive back in the first round. The recent release of DeSean Jackson leaves the Eagles with a need at wide receiver, while the secondary is composed of average talent at the four starting positions. 

But the biggest need for the Eagles is neither a receiver nor a defensive back. It's the team's lack of a pass-rusher. As of right now, the best pass-rusher on the team is veteran Trent Cole, who enters his 10th season in 2014. With his $11.625 million cap hit in 2015, this is likely Cole's final season in Philadelphia. 

No other player on the team can consistently pressure the quarterback. There are a number of players who can have the potential to collect six to eight sacks per year, such as Fletcher Cox or Connor Barwin. 

The best pass-rusher in this year's draft is defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. A once-in-a-lifetime talent, the Eagles have no chance of trading up for the South Carolina superstar, who will undoubtedly be one of the top two picks in the draft. 

After Clowney, there's no can't-miss dominant pass-rusher. 

Players like Kony Ealy, Anthony Barr and Dee Ford rank among the next-best pass-rushers available. 

All three are expected to be drafted in the first round. Barr is the player I would like to see the Eagles draft, if possible, with the 22nd pick.

He's a tough player to evaluate. ESPN's Todd McShay (subscription required) has dropped him on his big board down to 28th overall. He also has Barr falling out of the first round in his draft, a move that would have seemed unprecedented several months ago. McShay has the Oakland Raiders drafting Barr with the 36th overall pick, with his biggest concern for the pass-rusher his overall lack of explosiveness. 

But others, like, rate Barr very highly. He's the eighth-ranked player on the big board, third among all defensive players.

With such mixed reviews on Barr, it's possible that the outside linebacker from UCLA could fall to late in the first round. If he does, the Eagles would be foolish to pass him up.

I've already stated that the team should draft the best defensive player available in the first round, despite the pressing need at wide receiver. A potentially elite pass-rusher who falls down the board?

Seems too good to pass up. 

Barr would immediately make an impact on the Eagles defense. He may not enter the season as a starter, but he would be rotated in and would become a full-time player no later than the start of the 2015 season. 

If he falls to the 22nd pick, the Eagles have to pull the trigger. He could become the impact player, the impact pass-rusher, that this team so desperately needs.