Vikings LB Anthony Barr Has Set The Bar High


“With the ninth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select: Anthony Barr, linebacker, UCLA.”

Wait, what? Who? Why?

I’ll admit, those were my initial reactions when Roger Goodell announced our first draft pick two years ago. I was all in on our Vikings taking Johnny Football. Saying and owning up to that now actually makes me nauseous. Deep breath. Okay.

Hindsight is 20/20, thank God.

And man am I glad that it is and that Anthony Barr was the name Goodell read and that new (at the time) head coach Mike Zimmer went all in on the UCLA Bruin who played running back for his first two years of college (um, come again?). Clearly a new head coach with a history of great defenses knew what he was doing, right?

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Anthony Barr made a lot of big plays in his first year with the Vikings last season.

Anyone recall that dreadful game down in Florida against Tampa Bay? Well if you don’t, I don’t blame you. All but one play of that game was forgettable.

That one play was pure genius by Barr. Pure athleticism. Pure raw talent that you can’t teach.

If you are wondering what the heck I am talking about, take a look at the video below for a friendly reminder.

There is no question that Anthony Barr is still a work in progress and that his overall ceiling is still yet to be determined. But his output on the field last year combined with his 6’5″ frame and edge rush speed, tells me that all signs point to that ceiling being pretty damn high.

In 12 (darn injury) games of action last year as a rookie, Barr recorded 70 (55 solo) tackles, four sacks, forced two fumbles, recovered another three and took one of those to the house for that overtime win against the Bucs.

I’d chalk that up as a successful rookie campaign for Barr. Numbers aside, though, the one thing that I am most impressed with is Barr’s athletic ability and his speed. The guy is just a straight up athlete.

We’ve all seen the value that teams now place on athletic outside linebackers who can come off the edge and get to the quarterback. These are the types of players that are making big impact plays for their defenses and we continue to see them popping up more and more and getting drafted higher and higher.

The Minnesota Vikings clearly saw Barr’s build, speed and athleticism and knew that they could mold him into that guy for our defense.

Sep 28, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr (55) celebrates a sack during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Falcons 41-28. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

So far, so good

Now we all know that Barr is coming off of season-ending knee surgery this year, so that is obviously something to keep an eye on as he heads into his second year as a pro.

But if that knee can hold up and if he can remain healthy, I think opposing quarterbacks are in for a nightmare.

The more experience that Barr gets under Zimmer and his defense, the more dangerous he will be. Remember, this kid has really only played linebacker for a couple of years. All through high school and his first two years at UCLA, he was playing running back, wide receiver and tight end.

That alone speaks to Anthony Barr’s aforementioned athleticism that I seem to not be able to speak enough about.

Sorry, but it’s just really hard to ignore and not reiterate 400 times.

The key takeaway here is this: Anthony Barr is young, full of talent, beyond athletic and has the tools, frame and speed to be one of the best edge rushers in the NFL.

All of that was evident to me in his rookie season last year.

Anthony Barr has definitely set the bar high and I’ve got a feeling that we will see a lot more of No. 55 this season.

So stay healthy, young man. Play big. And just be the athlete that you are.

Anyone else ready to see No. 55 coming off the edge and making Mr. Discount-Double-Check from Green Bay’s day a living hell?

Hopefully Anthony Barr decides to set the bar even higher.

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