The Minnesota Vikings most popular draft pick is unsurprisingly Teddy Bridgewater, who is the team’s quarterback of the future and is currently battling veteran Matt Cassel for the 2014 starting gig. But UCLA Bruins edge rusher Anthony Barr was the Vikings first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and the uber-athletic DE/OLB joined the Vikings after the team traded down one spot to allow the Cleveland Browns to snag top-rated rookie CB Justin Gilbert.
We haven’t heard much about Barr’s play this offseason, but the tweets I’ve read have been quietly positive. When asked about Barr’s training camp performance, Vikings official site beat writer Mike Wobschall said in his mailbag feature, “Barr has looked good every step of the way as a Viking. He looks the part in terms of size and movement skills, and he seems to be picking up the defense quite well, too. I’ve seen the coaches working him with the first and second teams on base defense, I’ve seen him play linebacker in sub packages, and I’ve also seen him play defensive end on occasion. That Barr is being used in so many different spots tells me things are going well for him so far.”
The Vikings locked up their talented defensive end duo of breakout candidate Everson Griffen and the nationally under-appreciated Brian Robison, so Barr’s best chance of snaps will come at outside linebacker. He should make a nice impact as a playmaker and pass rusher as a rookie, but I think he still needs some time to adjust after being a raw prospect at UCLA without the most football experience. That said, it’s terrific news to hear that he’s “picking up the defense” at a good rate, because being a quick learner will allow Barr to make a big impact sooner. As he saw with former teammate Datone Jones last season, not every first-round rookie pass rusher makes a huge impact in their first year.