Entering the 2014 NFL Draft, it was quite clear that the Minnesota Vikings had a significant issue at the quarterback position. Despite this glaring issue, the Vikings used the ninth overall pick to select former UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr in order to add talent to a weak host of linebackers on their roster.
In Barr, the Vikings acquired one of the greatest talents in this year’s draft class. With that said, the Vikings also acquired one of the most, if not the most, raw talents in this year’s draft class as well.
Regardless of how raw Barr is, he will likely see plenty of playing time with the Vikings throughout the season. He will compete with an inferior group of linebackers including Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges and Jasper Brinkley for playing time opposite of veteran Chad Greenway at outside linebacker.
It is still unclear as to how new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will use Barr in the short and the long term. Barr is currently stuck in school due to NFL rules prohibiting players from participating in NFL activities until after their school’s semester is over. For this reason, he has not been involved in the Vikings’ OTAs at all thus far.
At UCLA, Barr played in a 3-4 defensive scheme, spending a lot of time as a drop linebacker and pass rushing off the edge. He will be forced to play a different defensive role in Minnesota as Zimmer has made it clear that he will run a 4-3 defensive scheme.
It is possible that Barr is the Vikings’ starting weak side or strong side linebacker come Week 1 of the 2014 NFL season. It is also possible that Barr plays sparingly as a pass rushing specialist as he begins to adjust to his new role and NFL game speed. Regardless, it is a safe bet that Barr will be on the field enough to make an impact for the Vikings during the 2014 NFL season.
Barr likely will experience some growing pains as he adjusts to a new scheme in Minnesota and as he becomes accustomed to NFL game play. Still, Barr represents the most talented linebacker on the Vikings’ current roster and should earn the majority of the snaps at one of the outside linebacker positions.