I can’t shake the feeling that, in a draft as deep as this, somebody unexpected lasts to No. 22.
It could be linebacker and SEC Defensive Player of the Year C.J. Mosley or consensus All-American safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, both products of Alabama. It could be the Jim Thorpe Award winner out of Michigan State, cornerback Darqueze Dennard, or even 2012 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M.
I can’t imagine many players the Eagles would be more ecstatic to see fall into their lap, though, than Anthony Barr—pass-rusher being arguably the franchise’s biggest need, after all.
Philadelphia ranked 20th with 37 sacks last season, just six more than the team ranked last in that category and a whopping 23 in back of the first-place unit. Furthermore, Trent Cole turns 32 in October, and his salary cap hit is set to balloon to nearly $12 million in ’15.
A converted running back with only two years of experience on defense, Barr still has a long way to go in terms of honing his technique and instincts for the next level. Yet there’s no denying he has a natural ability to get to the quarterback. Barr finished second in the nation with 13.5 sacks in ’12, and racked up 10 more last season en route to back-to-back first-team All-Pac-12 honors.
Barr could make an instant impact in the NFL as a situation pass-rusher. With the Eagles, he would have a year to learn from Cole, a two-time Pro Bowler, before being thrust into a starting role.
Such a drop to No. 22 is entirely plausible, too. If Barr makes it past the Tennessee Titans at No. 11, there aren’t many teams ahead of Philly with both the overwhelming need for a pass-rusher or that utilize a 3-4 defensive system for which he appears to be best suited.
If Barr goes into free-fall mode, the Birds could trade up a few spots to ensure they land their stud pass-rusher. They could even attempt to move down and gamble he’ll last a few picks longer. Or the Eagles can stay right where they are, and if somehow he does make it to No. 22, do the simple thing here.
Hand NFL commissioner Roger Goodell an index card with Barr’s name on it.