Switching from offense to defense will probably go down as the smartest football decision Anthony Barr has ever made. Three years ago, Barr was toiling away as a seldom used running back in UCLA's pistol offense. In 2012, Barr decided to make the switch to linebacker.
That switch paid off on Thursday when Minnesota made the UCLA linebacker the ninth overall pick in the NFL Draft. It's not surprising at all that new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, who spent most of his career as a defensive coordinator, decided to go with a defensive player.
CBSSports.com senior writer Pete Prisco was in favor of the pick.
Barr: I like this pick for a Vikings team that needed to get faster at LB. He will amp up the blitz package. B: http://t.co/KPxAyHqyNs— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) May 9, 2014
The Vikings traded down from eight to nine with Cleveland to grab Barr and picked up the Browns 145th pick in the draft along the way.
Back to Barr though. In only two seasons as a linebacker, Barr dominated the Pac-12. In 2012, Barr's first year at the postition, he ranked second in the country with 13.5 sacks, including a jarring hit against USC that broke Matt Barkley's collar bone and ended the Trojan quarterback's college career.
The only weakness Barr seems to have is his inexperience on the defensive side of the ball. According to NFLDraftScout.com, Barr is still raw in coverage and he'll need to 'pick up NFL schemes quickly to be more than a situational pass rusher as a rookie.'
Here's the contract Watkins is likely to ink, via former NFL agent Joel Corry.
Anthony Barr should sign a fully GTD 4-year, $12,743,599 deal with a $2,317,018 '14 cap number. His signing bonus should be $7,588,072.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) May 9, 2014
Barr isn't the first member of his family to get drafted either: His dad, Tony Brooks, was a fourth-round pick of the Eagles in 1992. Then there's Barr's uncle, Reggie Brooks, who was a third-round pick of the Redskins in 1993.
Not only is Barr the highest drafted player to come out of his family, but he's also the highest drafted linebacker to come out of UCLA in 20 years. The last time a Bruins linebacker was taken with in a higher spot came in 1994 when Arizona took Jamir Miller with the 10th overall pick. Barr's the first top-10 pick out of UCLA since Jonathan Ogden went sixth overall to the Ravens in 1996.