One of the most polarizing rookie fantasy dynasty linebackers is former Bruin Anthony Barr. He came to UCLA as a highly recruited running back, but continues to convert to the defensive side of the ball. To get a better idea of the skill set that Barr brings to the Vikings, I reviewed four of his 2013 college games against Nebraska, Oregon, USC, and Nevada. His rawness to the position was easily seen, but so were his many athletic gifts.
I noticed early on that Barr falls for a lot of misdirection and he does not always have a good feel of what the offense is trying to carry out. The linebacker will need to get coached up and study a lot of game tape to decipher plays and tendencies before they happen. Barr also lets offensive tackles and tight ends into his body on running plays, making him easy to move around when teams want to grind it out. He gets a little too upright in his stance which causes him to lose the explosion in his hips. When Barr keeps his hips low rushing the passer, the young backer creates enough force and torque to knock back the blockers he faces. He rarely uses his swim move and relies mostly on being a pure bull-rusher with a few spin moves here and there. This works with weaker, less athletic offensive tackles, but it will not work on many interior linemen or most left tackles. In IDP dynasty leagues, you want a player with versatility and right now Barr looks to be a one-dimensional pass rusher. I believe the tools are there with the right coaching.
Barr spends the majority of the line rushing from the outside linebacker spot, but can also crash the line of scrimmage from an inside backer spot. He is quick off the snap, changing directions quickly, causing confusion which creates pressure almost immediately on the quarterback. The defender times his jumps well, making sure his hands are up to knock down passes and/or just be a disruptive force on the signal caller getting into his head long before Barr reaches him. I love the way the linebacker uses his arm like a club, smashing the ball from the quarterback’s grip with his long powerful arms.
His motor is constantly running which usually ends with the ball carrier face down on the field when the play is over. When the defense dictates it, Barr can drop back into coverage even though he looks a bit stiff doing so. Barr is a solid tackler who closes quickly to inflict pain to whomever is touching to ball. Throughout all the game film I saw glimpses of greatness surrounded by inconsistency. Perhaps Barr can be harnessed by his inventive head coach Mike Zimmer, the former Bengals defensive coordinator. In dynasty rookie drafts, I would want Barr in sack heavy scoring, because I’m not sure how many of the tackles he will get with strong side backer Chad Greenway playing cleanup. Look for Barr to be a strong LB3, who could become a LB2 in time.
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