It seems like every year, the New York Giants' defense is missing one thing. An impact linebacker. The 'Beezer Brigade' has wept for one for years now. While the Giants got a reprieve this year from Jon Beason, an outside linebacker who can do everything and be a franchise cornerstone could really impact this defense.
Can Anthony Barr be that guy? I don't know. He's one of the riskiest prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft, but could possibly end up being the gem of this entire draft. His stats jump off the page. He was a former running back that transitioned to linebacker two years ago. At 6-foot-4, 242 pounds, he racked up 23 sacks and 41 tackles for loss over the past two years of playing outside linebacker for UCLA. Let's look closer with today's 2014 NFL Draft prospect profile.
- His length is incredible and his first step is almost as good as Jadaveon Clowney's.
- His athleticism and speed along with the fact that he's still learning make his upside infinite.
- Strong coverage linebacker that has the speed to recover and length to disrupt at the point of attack.
- Straight line speed among the best in the draft.
- Fantastic in pursuit with a great motor.
- Many stories of him being a tremendous locker room presence and among one of the most focused players in the draft. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com polled an executive, who said this about Barr:
"He's a team captain and he's an off-the-charts worker. He's all football, all the time. He works his butt off in the weight room. He's very bright and you never have to worry about him off the field."
- Instincts are not up to snuff. He is still learning the position, which, while giving him that tremendous upside also gives him that risk factor. Will he learn how to diagnose and react to a read option? Maybe.
- Not a good run stopper. Teams ran at him with some regularity and got success out of it.
- Fundamentals are still developing. He does not have any pass rush moves as of yet and that has posed problems for him if he doesn't win initially. There are no counter moves.
- Strength. He needs to grow stronger to hold up against the point of attack.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
Yes and no. Some may think that he's a 3-4 outside linebacker only, and that is definitely fair. However, his natural skillset can allow him to play whatever he wants. His ability to drop back into man coverage is a huge advantage that lets him stay as a three-down 'backer who can blitz effectively and drop back in coverage. That keeps teams guessing and can help disguise defensive schemes. His movement skills are very fluid, and thus, he's scheme versatile to me.
The reason I said he doesn't likely fit is because he's a risk. The Giants need to develop him. They need to make him stronger, need him to get better against the run, and they need him to develop his instincts on the field. That's a lot of development for a first-round pick. His ceiling could push the Giants defense over the edge and into dominance, but the chance of him busting would be a crushing blow to a team that right now needs all the help that it can get.
Anthony Barr vs Utah (2013) (via Adrian Ahufinger)
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View -- 6
Mocking The Draft -- 4
CBS Sports -- 7
Draft Breakdown -- 2
Draft Tek -- 8
At this point in time, Barr is a downward-trending player. Many had him right behind Jadaveon Clowney early on, but he didn't have the season that many thought he could have had. His stats were incredible, but they are also deceiving. He's an all or nothing player in that he either wins and wins big, or he loses and gives you nothing.
He is this year's Jason Pierre-Paul, Aldon Smith, Dontari Poe whoever you want to compare him to as the "boom or bust" type player. You'll likely see the hype for him start to rise up again during the Combine and his pro day which he is sure to dominate.
He compares favorably to Dion Jordan, who went 3rd overall. There's obviously a good chance that he goes very early as well, though a more likely landing spot is somewhere between 8 to 17. I don't think the Giants take a chance on him because of what we discussed before, just the ultimate risk factor. They can't afford it.