Vikings Raise the Barr on Defense, Select UCLA Linebacker

Posted May 8, 2014

The Vikings got right to work during the offseason on improving their defense, hiring Mike Zimmer as their new head coach and then taking an aggressive approach to free agency with the signing of Linval Joseph and Captain Munnerlyn.

They’ve used the same strategy in the 2014 NFL Draft, using the ninth overall pick on explosive outside linebacker Anthony Barr. Before selecting Barr, though, the Vikings moved back one spot in a trade with the Cleveland Browns, who previously traded to No. 9 from No. 4 (Buffalo).

At 6-5, 265 pounds, Barr possesses the explosive athletic traits necessary to be a game-changing pass rusher and effective in coverage, and he also has the frame to add strength to become a force against the run.

Barr played and started in 27 games during his junior and senior seasons, providing outstanding production in those games with 148 tackles, 41.5 tackles for loss (TFLs), 23.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles and six pass breakups. For the effort, Barr earned First-Team All-Pac 12 honors in 2012 and 2013, and following the 2013 campaign he was named a finalist for the Lombardi, Bednarik and Butkus Awards and took home the Lott IMPACT Award.

After a productive two seasons playing linebacker for UCLA, Barr projects well to the NFL given his skill set, frame and performances leading up to the draft. He is credited by scouts for exceptional take-off speed, acceleration and closing burst, which allows him to be disruptive in the offensive backfield, make plays effortlessly in pursuit even from the back side and recover quickly if he makes a mistake. At his pro day, Barr opened eyes with a 4.44 time in the 40-yard dash.

Barr may be raw, with just two years of experience playing linebacker, but that is likely quite appealing to Zimmer, who is as respected a defensive teacher as there is in the NFL.

As they did in free agency, the Vikings have decided to “raise the Barr” on defense during the draft, too.

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