2014 NFL Draft: Making the case for Anthony Barr to the Buccaneers

We continue our Making the Case series with linebacker Anthony Barr out of UCLA, who could play defensive end for the Buccaneers.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have plenty of options in the 2014 NFL draft. After taking a look at Teddy Bridgewaterand Sammy Watkins, we examine Anthony Barr.

Why Anthony Barr is a realistic option

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers love pass rushers. Or rather, Lovie Smith, Leslie Frazier and everyone associated with the Tampa 2 defense love pass rushers. They build their defensive schemes around getting pressure with four rushers, and you need quality pass rushers to do that, as well as depth. The Bucs signed Michael Johnson, but beyond him have very few players they can truly count on as edge rushers.

If the Bucs were to draft Barr, they'd almost certainly see the 6'5", 255 lbs. college linebacker as a 4-3 defensive end. The Dallas Cowboys reportedly see him the same way, and with core Tampa 2 designers Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli there, they're likely to see pass rushers the same way the Buccaneers see them.

The fact that Barr is a bit of a raw prospect only makes this selection more likely: he could sit and develop behind Michael Johnson and Adrian Clayborn, coming onto the field as a situational pass rusher initially. The Bucs perfected this approach in the 1990s, when they drafted six defensive ends between 1996 and 2001, while signing Simeon Rice, developing Stephen White and holding on to Chidi Ahanotu.

Why Barr fits the Buccaneers

He's a pass rusher. The Buccaneers love pass rushers. Especially large, explosive ones. Sure, Barr is a little undersized for a defensive end and hasn't played with his hand in the dirt much. That means he's not an ideal fit, but he still displays a lot of the necessary physical traits to develop into a disruptive pass rusher down the road. And the Bucs would give him that room to develop, with Michael Johnson set as the starting right defensive end.

Barr is not a good run defender, despite outstanding effort, and will have to learn to play the run as well as learning the nuances of playing from a three-point stance. He'd give Leslie Frazier an extra weapon, especially on passing downs. A group of, say, Michael Johnson, Gerald McCoy, William Gholston and Anthony Barr could provide a devastating pass rush on third down.

The problem is that this doesn't fill a need, and the seventh overall pick is likely too early for Barr to be selected. If the Bucs were to pick Barr, they'd be passing on upgrading their offensive guard and wide receiver positions for at least one round, and they'd likely only do so after trading back in the first round.

Still, Barr does fit the Buccaneers defense, they do love their pass rushers, and if they can find a way to add picks and trade back, this is a realistic option.

What others say about him

Stephen White:

Anthony Barr really grew on me as I watched him play in those five games. At first, it bothered me that he was obviously physically gifted, but wasn't always dominant. I came to believe that it was more of a coaching issue than anything else. The technique was there, but the undersized Barr was asked to try to run through guys rather than around them to make plays far too often. That shouldn't be a problem when he gets to the NFL.

Though there's no question Barr showed that he has a lot of upside, I wouldn't rank him up there with Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack. He is just a hair behind those guys. His athleticism is good, but he isn't close to being the physical freak that Clowney is. Barr is about even with Mack in most areas except for functional strength, where there is a big difference. I think Barr is going to be a very good NFL player, but there is no way I would take him over Clowney or Mack, no matter what defense I was running.

John Harris at The Sideline View:

There's as much hype about Barr as an edge pass rusher as anyone not named Jadeveon Clowney, but these spotlight videos show he still has plenty of work to do to become a complete edge player. That said, the speed, the burst, the closing ability, the fluidity and the athleticism are ALL evident. As a senior in 2013, he created mayhem in bunches. He'd have games in which he couldn't be blocked and then another contest in which he completely disappeared. Against Arizona in 2013, he didn't register one stat. Not one tackle. Not one sack. No real impact at all. That's my biggest worry...that he dominated competition with his speed and athleticism for so long that he'll struggle making the adjustment as a football player.

Matthew Fairburn at Mocking the Draft:

Anthony Barr is an exceptional physical specimen. His combination of length, first-step quickness and straight-line speed gives him the tools to be an impact player off the edge in the NFL. As should be expected from a player with his lack of experience, he also has a lot he needs to work on. Few players have as much room for growth as Barr. That's the plus side to drafting him earlier. The downside is he may not make much of an impact early and banking on his development is risky. In the late first-round or early second-round range, he's worth a shot, but earlier than that is quite the gamble for a team to make.

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