The talented Minnesota Vikings linebacker has been working more with the defensive line this offseason to improve his pass-rushing skills.
Before he was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, linebacker Anthony Barr was terrorizing opposing college quarterbacks as a member of UCLA’s defense.
During his final two seasons at the school, Barr finished with a total of 23.5 sacks. His skills as a pass rusher were one of the main reasons why the Vikings used such a high draft selection on him in 2014.
In his first two years with Minnesota, Barr’s pass-rushing skills made a few appearances as he notched a total of 7.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. Since the 2016 season, however, the young Vikings defender has been used less as a weapon to get after the opposing quarterback and more as a traditional linebacker.
That may change in 2018.
During Minnesota’s recent minicamp, Barr was reportedly participating in some of the drills with the team’s defensive lineman. In an appearance on NFL Total Access last week, the Vikings linebacker talked about the possibility of getting after the quarterback more in 2018.
"“Hopefully I can rush the passer a little more (this season). It’s something I did a lot in college. When I got the NFL, I was dropping back into coverage a little more.I like rushing the passer a lot going forward. I think maybe I can impact the game a little more, change the looks up for the offense, and help the defense.”"
It was only minicamp and this is the time of year for Minnesota to do a little experimenting, but using Barr more as a pass rusher in 2018 may be a good move for the team to make.
The Vikings linebacker has only had a total of three sacks in his last two years and although the team’s defense has been very successful, it still feels like an area of Barr’s game is being underutilized.
Despite being one of the NFL’s older head coaches, Mike Zimmer still remains innovative with his approach to coaching and he likes to add new elements to Minnesota’s defense each year. Could Barr’s return to pass rushing be the latest wrinkle Zimmer adds for the Vikings’ defensive attack in 2018?