The Vikings received plenty of offers for the eighth overall pick when they were on the clock, but in the end they decided to only move back a single spot to pick number nine.
And that’s because there was a player they didn’t want to leave round one without.
“When we came in today, we thought [Barr] was going to be our guy all along,” Mike Zimmer said after the Vikings selected UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. “I’m really, really, really excited about him.”
Rick Spielman said after the first round that he didn’t believe Barr would have been available much longer if the Vikings ended up trading back further than No. 9. There were reports that the Lions and Titans were also high on Barr following the draft’s first round.
Zimmer was reportedly a big fan of Barr’s, and it appears he was able to convince Rick Spielman Barr was the right pick.
“You can’t coach what he has,” Spielman said. Spielman added that the Vikings thought Barr had the potential to be the second best pass rusher in the draft class after Jadeveon Clowney.
“He’s got a lot of unique ability and talent,” Zimmer said. “He plays good all the time.”
Zimmer added that he’s never had a linebacker with the athletic ability of Barr. The Vikings clocked Barr with a 4.47 40 yard dash, and Barr tested better in some agility drills at the Combine than all of the defensive backs.
Barr had a good feeling about the Vikings too after visiting Winter Park for the team’s “Top 30” event, even though he wasn’t completely sure that he would end up with the Vikings at the end of the draft.
“I knew when I was here on my visit there was some level of comfort,” Barr said. “I thought my meetings went well, and I thought if I was a Viking it’d be a great fit.”
Zimmer mentioned that he has already drawn up schemes that involve Barr at three different positions. Barr will likely start at strong side linebacker but could move all over the field for different blitz packages.
“I’m a tough football player, very competitive,” Barr said. “No matter where they can place me on the field I think I can make an impact.”
For Barr to make an impact on the field, he will have to improve his technique and continue to develop as a football player. Barr has only played defense for two seasons after being recruited as a fullback, but Zimmer clearly likes his upside and think mentioned he thinks Barr is coachable.
“I think I have a great coaching staff behind me that will get me prepared,” Barr said. “Now’s when the real work starts.”