Anthony Barr Proved Himself Worthy of a Top 10 Pick


In this ongoing series, The Viking Age takes a look back at the 2014 season.

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Rick Spielman went into the 2014 draft knowing he needed to seriously upgrade the Vikings’ talent on D. Positional “fit” had to take a backseat to simply getting bigger, stronger and faster on the defensive side of the ball.

In terms of pure athletic talent, no player in the draft could top UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. Everyone knew Barr was raw, but everyone also knew that his upside was huge.

When the Vikings’ turn came to pick, they went with pure talent over polish, taking Barr #9 overall after a trade with Cleveland.

Fans hoping for a quarterback were slightly miffed by the selection of Barr.

Many a draft analyst expressed concerns about Barr’s ability to immediately contribute in the NFL. Even the most optimistic prognosticators guessed that Barr would need some time to adjust.

Mike Zimmer was apparently the only one who believed Barr was ready for a full workload in the NFL right away. Barr was an every-down linebacker from day 1, lining up on the strong side.

Barr’s freakish athleticism became readily apparent early in the season thanks to plays like this one.

Week-by-week, Barr made the doubters shut their mouths. It quickly became obvious that Spielman made a wise move selecting Barr and entrusting his development to Mike Zimmer and his staff.

With the athletic Barr in the lineup, the Vikings had more than just a trusty Chad Greenway type of linebacker. They had a true playmaker, a guy who could impact games.

Barr showed that playmaking ability against the Buccaneers when he single-handedly won the game for the Vikings in overtime.

That play would prove to be the pinnacle of Barr’s season. After that game, physical problems began to plague the linebacker. His production would tail off and unfortunately his season would come to a premature end.

Despite the disappointing end to Barr’s season, overall his rookie campaign was a rousing success. Not only did Barr show the great athletic talent everyone knew he possessed, he also demonstrated that he is a great fit in Mike Zimmer’s scheme, which calls for an athletic, versatile Sam linebacker.

Barr has only scratched the surface of his tremendous potential. The Vikings should have a Pro Bowl-level linebacker for years to come in the young man from UCLA.