2014 NFL combine: UCLA LB Anthony Barr still learning his position

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

Two years ago, Anthony Barr was a running back. Now's he one of the best linebackers in the draft. (USATSI)
Two years ago, Anthony Barr was a running back. Now's he one of the best linebackers in the draft. (USATSI)

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INDIANAPOLIS -- When Anthony Barr arrived at UCLA four years ago, he was a 6-foot-3, 225-pound running back. As he stood before reporters at the NFL combine on Saturday, he was 1 1/2 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier. And a linebacker. And a potential top-10 pick who says he's still learning to play his position.

"The transition was pretty smooth, to be honest," said Barr, who made the move from running back to linebacker before his junior season. "Dropping back into coverage was something that was new to me. I feel more comfortable with that."

We've seen much of that potential this year when he recorded 10 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss for the Bruins (he had 13.5 and 22, respectively, in 2012) -- even though Barr admitts that he's still learning to shed blocks and figuing out the right way to use his hands. But he estimated that he dropped into coverage 30 percent of the time last year, and he said he felt he did a good job while doing so.

Another advantage for Barr: he can recognize the tips and keys that a running back might give away while trying to scoot away from the defense.

And though he said he's willing to bulk up even more so he can put his hand on the ground as a defensive end type, CBSSports.com's analysis of Barr says this: "Scouts feel that Barr is stout enough to handle strong-side duties in the 4-3 alignment but believe his best fit is as a stand-up outside linebacker in the 3-4."

Said Barr: The position is still new to me in a sense. It's exciting. If I continue to work, the sky's the limit."

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