Over the next few weeks we will reveal the top 25 current Vikings players, counting them down Casey Kasem-style from 25 all the way to number 1. Let’s continue the countdown with the man at #22…
LB Anthony Barr
Rookie Anthony Barr joins the Vikings with high expectations after being taken #9 overall in the draft. But is it really fair to place any kind of expectations on a player who, everyone acknowledges, is still very early in his development and might have to take on a limited role at least in the beginning?
What realistically can we hope to get from Anthony Barr in year one? And where does he really belong on this list? Is it fair to ever include a rookie on a list like this?
Projecting Anthony Barr in year one is tricky indeed. First off, we don’t even know how he will be used. How much work will Barr get as a true strong-side linebacker? How often will he be on the line of scrimmage as a pass rusher?
Until we know Barr’s exact role in the defense, we can’t honestly project his performance. The problem is, I’m not sure even Mike Zimmer and George Edwards yet know what Barr’s role will be. They haven’t gotten to see much of him thanks to the rule that forced him to sit out OTAs while he finished school, and it will probably take until well into training camp before they have an idea how/where to best utilize their rookie.
Barr’s rookie season could well resemble Cordarrelle Patterson’s in a lot of respects. Patterson last year had his role scaled back early while he learned, but the Vikings still were able to put him in position to have an impact. Barr might not be an every-down player initially, but there will still be ways to use him that allow him to do positive things.
For now, our projections are all based what we know of Barr’s talent. Going on talent alone, you could make the case for Barr as a top five player on the current roster (just as you could have Cordarrelle Patterson last year). But our overall evaluation must be informed by our understanding of the circumstances. This being the case, the only fair thing is to exercise restraint and rank Barr low in the top 25. And acknowledge that the case could be made for leaving him and his fellow rookies off this list entirely.