Welcome to part two of an ongoing series focusing on possible options for the Dallas Cowboys first round draft pick. Last week, we discussed the pros and cons between two defensive ends in Kony Ealy from Missouri and Dee Ford from Auburn. If you missed the breakdown or would like to re-read it, here is a link to that column: http://thelandryhat.com/2014/03/25/dallas-draft-day-dilemma-ealy-v-ford/
As I stated in my previous column, there are certain prospects that will very likely not be around when the Cowboys pick in the sixteenth spot. Guys like Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack and likely Aaron Donald will be all be off the board. Just because that is the case, it does not mean that Dallas should forgo their glaring needs to improve the defense.
Luckily, there are several options that should be available. If Dallas chooses to trade down and acquire another mid round pick, Ealy or Ford would make a lot of sense in that 21-25 range of picks. If Dallas elects to stay at sixteen though, the defensive line may not be the area they focus on. Two linebackers with massively different skill sets should both be there for the taking. Today we will be looking at the merits of UCLA’s Anthony Barr and Alabama’s C.J. Mosley in this version of the Draft Day Dilemma.
Anthony Barr is a pure athlete in the body of a beast. At 6’5″ and 255 lbs., UCLA used him at running back as well as wide receiver and tight end the first two years he was on campus. Going into his junior year, the team decided to play him at linebacker and a star was born. Barr put up a NCAA leading 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss to go along with four forced fumbles. Barr returned for his senior season and proved that move was no fluke as he again racked up double-digit sacks (10) and tackles for loss (20) while leading the entire NCAA in forced fumbles with six.
Barr’s best attributes clearly come from his experience as a running back. He has amazing lateral quickness, which was confirmed when he posted the third best cone drill time for his position. For those who may not be familiar, the cone drill is a key indicator of pass rushing ability. He also possesses quick burst and explosion as evident by his 4.66 forty-yard dash time with the first ten yards being completed in 1.56 seconds. These metrics, along with the game tape and stats all back up the fact that Barr may be just approaching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his ability to be a dominant sack artist.
If he has any glaring weaknesses, it may be as a run defender. His bench press numbers at the combine were poor in comparison to the rest of the options at his position. It will be imperative that he does not get engaged in blocks, especially in open space, one-on-one with a pulling guard or tackle that reaches the next level. That being said, he is not a liability in pass coverage so if he can improve his run defense skills, he could be an every down terror, which would only provide more opportunities for him to get after the quarterback.