The Minnesota Vikings selected our All-American LB Anthony Barr last night as their 9th pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Here is how it went down.
With his 4.41 40-yard dash time and very good agility numbers at the combine, scouts have said that Barr could fill the outside linebacker spot in either a 4-3 defense or a 3-4. That's the sort of versatility that Mike Zimmer likes in his defenders, and we should expect to see Barr all over the field as a rookie. He'll likely be able to contribute with his pass-rushing skills right away, and time will tell if he will be able to translate his incredible athletic skills into becoming a more well-rounded defender.
Barr is not only explosive in terms of his elite acceleration, but has a lot of leg drive to explode through tackles and take the ballcarrier down. His aggressive play style can sometimes work against him as he overruns the play from time to time, but mostly his responsiveness and agility allow him to respond to cutbacks by running backs and keep the play in front of him.
Despite only playing on defense for two years, he has a good understanding of angles in the limited time he's been tested. He also has fantastic body control and naturally has a good understanding of what to do with his body and how it works. His ability to integrate new technique into onfield talent is surprising, and probably a big part of the reason the Vikings were willing to make the pick: how quickly Barr picked up his new position despite his short time there. Zimmer has consistently emphasized smart, coachable players (who are "tough") and there's no question that Barr meets those requirements.
More from the Daily Norsemen with Vikings' GM Rick Spielman's perspective on Barr:
The Vikings fell in love with Barr's athleticism and character according to Spielman. He acknowledged that Barr has a few technical things to work on but was very confident that Head Coach Mike Zimmer could coach him up. [...]
Barr's size was a concern for some draft scouts, but not for Spielman. "He's big enough right now," Spielman explained. The Vikings did get offers to move down further in Round 1, but apparently Barr was their guy and they didn't want to miss out on picking him. Spielman said "he was pretty coveted...you can't coach what he has."
Of course Rick Spielman has a reputation of trading back into the first round, which he was asked about. "You never know," he coyly replied. Stay tuned, folks.
We can't wait to see Barr prove the doubters wrong and succeed in the Twin City.