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NFL Draft: Vikings Select UCLA LB Anthony Barr

Posted May 8, 2014

OVERVIEW

Born in South Bend, Ind., and raised in a Notre Dame family: His father, Tony Brooks, played fullback at Notre Dame and was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 1992 draft; uncle, Reggie Brooks, played running back at ND, was fifth in the 1992 Heisman voting and played 41 games with the Redskins and Buccaneers (1993-96); and uncle Cedric Figaro played linebacker for the Irish as well as 98 games for the Chargers, Colts, Browns and Rams (1988-92, 1995-96). Anthony grew up in Los Angeles and was raised by his mother, who is part of a large extended family, including Anthony's grandparents, who were like second parents to him. Ran track and was an all-state running back in high school, totaling 1,890 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior (dealt with hip pointers) before suffering a season-ending broken ankle in September of his senior season.

According to Barr, he felt effects of the injury through his freshman season. Highly recruited, he spurned Notre Dame, not wanting to play receiver, and signed with UCLA and then-head coach Rick Neuheisel in order to play running back and remain close to home. As a true freshman in 2010, rushed six times for 29 yards (4.8-yard average) and no touchdowns with nine receptions for 66 yards (7.3) and no touchdowns in 12 games, including four starts at the Bruins' F-back (hybrid running back/tight end/receiver). Started 7 of 12 games played at the F-back in 2011, rushing nine times for 25 yards and a TD and three catches for 16 yards and a TD. Had arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage in his right knee and missed three October contests. Converted to 3-4 right outside linebacker under new head coach Jim Mora Jr., then-defensive coordinator Lou Spanos and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich (current DC). Sustained a head injury during 2012 fall camp and began the season with a cast protecting a broken left index finger. Started all 14 games and ranked second nationally in sacks behind Steelers 2013 first-rounder Jarvis Jones; recorded 83 tackles, 21.5 for loss and 13.5 sacks with five pass breakups, four forced fumbles, a blocked kick and a safety. Dealt a season-ending blow to USC quarterback and 2013 Eagles fourth-rounder Matt Barkley. Sustained a head injury during 2013 fall camp but started all 13 games at ROLB and registered 65 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks with a pass breakup and five forced fumbles. Won the Lott IMPACT award and was a finalist for the Lombardi, Bednarik and Butkus awards. Team captain. Was invited but did not participate in the Senior Bowl. 

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STRENGTHS

Exceptional take-off speed, acceleration and closing burst. Makes plays effortlessly in back-side lateral pursuit. Outstanding recovery quickness to make plays (when he is out of position). Explosive striker. Can produce "wow" plays when he triggers quickly or releases cleanly and has developed a reputation for knocking quarterbacks out of games (see USC, 2012 and New Mexico State, 2013).

WEAKNESSES

Developing instincts -- late to locate the ball and too easily fooled by play-action and misdirection. Motor runs hot and cold -- does not always apply himself. Can be locked down too easily when engaged -- unrefined hand use. Lacks variety of pass-rush moves and relies too much on natural speed. Average eyes, anticipation and awareness in coverage marginal feel. Average base strength -- moved off the ball too easily by tight ends (plays tall). Needs more time in the weight room -- 15 bench-press reps were tied for the fewest among linebackers at the combine.

DRAFT PROJECTION

Round 1 (top 10)

BOTTOM LINE

A highly disruptive, athletic specimen with the pass-rush potential to effortlessly emerge as a double-digit sack producer. Is far from a finished product and his best football is still ahead of him, yet he plays the game with more of an offensive temperament and could require some patience. Is the type of rare athlete that could even contribute as an offensive playmaker once he learns to grasp defensive concepts and the game slows down for him.

 

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