2014 NFL Draft: How Does Anthony Barr Compare to 2013 Draft's Top Pass-Rushers?

Dan TylickiAnalyst IApril 30, 2014

UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, left, tries to get by Arizona State offensive linesman Jamil Douglas during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in Pasadena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

In every year's NFL draft, everyone wants to make comparisons to try to figure out what kind of player a prospect can become in the NFL. Sometimes it's easy to determine, while other times players are just too unique to box in.

Projected to be an early first-round pick, outside linebacker Anthony Barr put up big numbers for UCLA for two seasons, and he is one of the most explosive members of this draft class. Who from last year's draft class does that sound like?

Barr's career compared to last year's pass-rushers can be summed up on three fronts: his playing style, his numbers and his experience.

It's rare that you see a change from offense to defense in college, especially when it's not a somewhat related position, such as wide receiver to cornerback. Barr's change was a bit more pronounced.

He was an offensive skill player his first two seasons, seeing bits and pieces of playing time at running back, tight end and wide receiver. He had 56 rushing yards and 12 receptions to show for that.

It was Barr's idea to switch to outside linebacker to get more playing time, and he became a star at the position quickly. Making the change successfully is great as is, but it also shows his adaptability depending on what a team might need.

As rare as it may be to make such a change, it does happen. Last year's draft prospect Dion Jordan did the same thing. He spent his freshman year as a wide receiver and tight end, then was changed to a defensive end.

While Barr and Jordan had very similar starts to their college careers, their production was very much different. Despite not having experience at linebacker heading into the 2012 season, Barr put up huge numbers.

Barr had 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss his junior year, and he followed that up with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. The only player to put up those kinds of numbers two years in a row from the 2013 class was Jarvis Jones, whose 14.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss his junior year led all of college football.

More important than the numbers he put up in college is his size and his speed. Here were the numbers he had at the scouting combine, according to NFL.com: 6'5", 255 pounds, 4.66 40-yard dash, 15 bench press reps, 33.5" arm length, 9.375" hands, 34.5" vert jump and 119" broad jump.

Barr's numbers are in between the taller, faster Jordan and the shorter, slower Jones, but he is less like those two and closer to Ezekiel Ansah. Ansah's combine numbers were nearly identical to Barr's despite a larger upper body and more bench press reps.

While a player can be compared to another by their look and how they have performed, their playing style remains the best way to compare a player.

As evident by the sack numbers, as well as my own analysis, Barr is first and foremost a pass-rusher. He is quick off the snap, and he can make a beeline for the quarterback swiftly. He has enough awareness to drop in short coverage or go after the running back if the situation calls for it as well, though it does not happen often.

Barr's biggest weakness is that, aside from being raw, he is somewhat one-dimensional. Yes, he's great at rushing the passer, but what else does he bring to the table? As evident in his game film, he has not been asked to do all that much else besides attack the quarterback.

In this regard, he is very much like Barkevious Mingo. Both were praised for their pass-rushing abilities coming out of college, but neither one may become a complete defensive player. Even more closely, both are stand-up edge-rushers who can enter a stance if needed, but it's not their forte.

In short, Barr is a player who can notch sacks in the NFL without much difficulty, and I believe he has enough room to grow that the sky is the limit for him. For now, though, he is a Jordan-Mingo hybrid, someone who has the physical traits and the skill set to get to the quarterback, but not much else just yet.