Cowboys Draft 2014: Scouting Anthony Barr

Stephen Dunn

Because there has been such a high correlation in recent years between the top collegians invited to Valley Ranch for pre-draft visits and who the Cowboys end up drafting, its important to know as much as possible about these players. As a service to you BTB is providing a series of detailed scouting reports on each of these targets. Today we begin with out look at UCLA Edge Rusher, Anthony Barr.

Name: Anthony Barr

Position: Edge Rusher

School: UCLA

Height: 6’ 5"

Weight: 255

Games Studied: USC, Stanford, Washington

Measurables vs others at his position:

Note: This spider graph provides a visual representation of a players measurable traits, and combine results.  The filled in area of the chart, as well as the number in the light grey circle represents the percentile among the player's peers by position.  A score of 85 here represents that out of every 100 players at his position, the player has a better result in that test than 85 of those 100.

Pass Game:

Barr is the kind of player who has rare, speed off the edge, with a motor to match. Although he played primarily outside linebacker in the UCLA defense, he was really their primary pass rusher. He played as the outside man on the 4-man line in nickel situations. Has the explosive first step and speed to beat his man around the corner, and sharpen his angle to get back to the quarterback. Barr plays with very good awareness in his rush. Very rarely do you see him run by the play, or get pushed past the quarterback by the tackle. As he gets up field he does a good job of knowing where the QB is and adjusting his rush to get back to him, whether it’s a broken play scramble, or the QB climbing in the pocket to throw.

In the three games I saw him play I saw him get a sack on a pure speed rush where he made a diving strip sack, a (nasty good) spin move where he was tripped and crawled the last couple of feet to the QB, and a power rush in which he got into the OT’s chest, and extended to create separation allowing him to slip inside into the gap for the sack. He is active at time with his hands, but not necessarily as intentional about his hand use as others in the class, and this is not how he wins. He wins with his speed, and with counters off that speed. Although he did show several counters, it was not consistent at all, in fact the only spin I saw was the one resulting in the sack.

He is also capable as the loop man on the tackle-end twist stunt, as it gives him a chance to get a running start at a less athletic guard or center which he uses to his advantage to run by, or through them. One thing you see in every rush is the effort he plays with on every snap. Even when he is blocked he is always working to try to get free and get to the QB.

Run Game:

The concern that many people have expressed regarding Barr, especially on the DL, is whether or not he can hold up against the run game at the NFL level. This concern is exactly why I chose the Stanford game as one to study. In my opinion Barr will be OK in this area. He wins against the run in a similar way he wins on the pass rush, with speed and agility. He is able to slither past blockers to get to the backfield and be in position to make a play. When he does get locked up with a blocker he holds up OK against a single block, although he won’t power his way into the back field, or reset the line of scrimmage into the backfield with his strength.

When teams try to run away from him, he plays extremely fast in pursuit, but he is disciplined in his assignment. In fact, Stanford tried an end around to take advantage of his backside pursuit, but Barr proceeded to block the play up by settling down and making the tackle on the WR just after he got the handoff. He plays with very good technique when facing a kick out block or a trap blocker, keeping his outside shoulder free, and setting the edge to squeeze the gap for the back to run through.

At the next level he may be asked to "wrong shoulder" blockers by playing the block with his outside instead of his inside shoulder and spilling the run to the outside, but I don’t think he will have any problems with adapting to the new technique considering how clean he was executing the contain technique at UCLA. His effort definitely shows itself again in this area of the game as he can be seen regularly chasing down ball carriers down the field and on the far side.

Conclusion/Cowboys Projection:

In my opinion, after the signing of Henry Melton, and with guys like Tyrone Crawford, Jeremy Mincey, and Ben Bass who can rush from the inside (especially in the nickel) one of the biggest needs for the Cowboys defense is a speed rush off the edge, which is exactly what this player provides. As has been reported since his visit with Rod Marinelli, I believe he will play the weakside (right) defensive end in this scheme. Although he is a little light for a traditional DE role, this scheme allows that right side guy to be a little smaller (see DeMarcus Ware 6’4" 264lbs) and still be effective. The best way to think of Barr as a player is the following phrase "Relentless Athletic Playmaker".  If you can remember that about him, you’ll have a decent enough understanding of who he is on the field.

Pro Comparison: Jason Taylor, DE Miami/Washington/New York Jets (Former 3rd rd pick)

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