The Minnesota Vikings have three fearsome edge rushers on their hands in Everson Griffen, Brian Robison, and Anthony Barr, as both Griffen and Robison were locked up to long-term deals, and Barr is locked in on a four-year rookie contract after being a top-ten pick in this year’s draft. Barr came out of UCLA as a raw prospect without much experience as a pass rusher (he used to play running back), but he was easily one of the most impressive players in the country, especially from a physical standpoint. Blessed with elite physical tools, not many players have Barr’s raw athleticism, and he’s an explosive athlete in every sense with plenty of burst and bend off the edge. He’ll line up as an outside linebacker for the Vikings, but he should also get some reps as a defensive end to help spell Robison and Griffen on occasion.
Robison isn’t known for his high volume of sacks, but he is as consistent as they come in this league when putting pressure on the quarterback. A steady veteran, Robison is the most consistent of the Vikings trio of pass rushers, and that consistency will help open things up for the others. Griffen and Barr are young and explosive, and it will be interesting to see how much Barr can contribute in run defense as a rookie. We shouldn’t expect much from him as he learns the ropes, but he’s looked good thus far and is someone defenses definitely have to account for on passing downs.
It sounds like Robison is excited for what Barr can bring to the table, as he gave the rookie some effusive praise, especially when it comes to those exceptional tools. He said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Mark Craig, “He’s always coming up to me or Everson or [defensive line] coach Patterson or [assistant defensive line coach Robb] Akey. He’s always trying to learn. That’s what you see. He’s got such raw talent with just his speed and stuff. If he starts learning some of the hand techniques and stuff like that, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
The biggest takeaway here is that Barr is always trying to soak up info from players and coaches, and he’s adjusted better to the pro game than expected because of this zeal. I’m not sure how many sacks we’ll see from Barr, but I’m sure he’ll have a handful of plays throughout the season that will make you say “wow” (mostly as a speed rusher).