(Editor’s Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held May 8-10, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today’s featured player is UCLA’s Anthony Barr).
Name: Anthony Barr
Position: Outside Linebacker/Defensive End
Honors: The former running back developed into a solid outside linebacker for the Bruins, getting selected first-team All-Pac-12 by the coaches in his first full season at linebacker in 2012. He led the team that year in sacks (13.5) and tackles for loss (21.5), and built on that in 2013, when he was named a first-team All-American, once again leading the team in sacks (10) and tackles for loss (20).
Key stat: It took almost no time for Barr to transition from running back – where he spent his first two years at UCLA, to outside linebacker – where he racked up 23.5 sacks in two seasons.
Where He’s Projected: It’s unlikely Barr will fall to the Cowboys. Most mock drafts have him going in the top 10. If he falls, it may be because of teams’ uncertainty on his fit. Most project Barr to be a solid 3-4 pass rusher at outside linebacker. A 4-3 team would have to decide his best fit as an outside linebacker or a defensive end, with the latter being the more popular choice. Regardless, he’s likely gone within the first 10 picks.
How He Helps the Cowboys: The Cowboys need another pass rusher in this draft. Transitioning from his normal spot as an outside linebacker could take some time if Dallas would choose to use him as a defensive end. Barr typically didn’t put his hand in the ground as he rushed from the outside at UCLA, but his speed along the edge would be useful whether he plays defensive end or outside linebacker. The Cowboys would find a way to get him on the field and figure out where he fits best in camp. He’s fast and instinctive, and though he struggles at times when he can’t get around the tackle, he has time to develop those pass-rush skills.
Bryan Broaddus – Has an outstanding build for a linebacker, 6-5, 255 pounds. Didn’t time as well at the Combine with a 4.60 but ran 4.45 at his pro day in Los Angeles and improved from 15 reps to 19 on 225. In studying him on tape, I never believed that running to the ball was ever going to be a problem. This kid can get there in a hurry and is very athletic. There are some questions about his ability to take on blockers but he has some power in his game. I have seen him hold the point of attack and get off the blocks. Can quickly get up the field, this is the strength of his game. Plays with some snap. When he sees it, he can go. Relentless after the ball. Really does a nice job of running from the backside. Can really close some ground when he is tackling. Hard guy to run away from. Showed awareness on the read-option. Really can come down the line to defend it. Did a nice job of handling the reverse. Able to adjust on the move. Does a good job of retracing his steps when he gets up field and the ball comes back inside. Really like him as a pass rusher. Can really be explosive up the field. Good with his technique. Comes from a scheme here at UCLA that has former NFL coaches on the staff and you can see how they have worked with him. Could improve in this area even more. Had a sack vs. Utah, beat tackle to the outside and went around the corner. He keeps coming after you and knows how to go up in throwing lane and knock the ball down. If he has a weakness, he’ll need to learn how to drop better in the passing game if he has to play in coverage. Feel like it’s a mistake if you play him in coverage to begin with because of his skill as a pass rusher. I believe this player has a lot of room to grow and develop because of how new he is to the position. I would play him as the SAM linebacker and let him rush out of the nickel. No doubt he is a first round talent. I like him more than Khalil Mack, who is also an outstanding player in his own right.