In a draft full of divisive players — good luck finding two evaluators who agree on how high Johnny Manziel will go or how good he’s going to be — Anthony Barr has generated as much debate as anyone. Once considered a lock of a top-five pick, an outside linebacker as talented as Buffalo’s Khalil Mack only bigger, Barr’s stock has fluctuated to the point that no one knows where he’ll land in the first round. The Lions at No. 10 could be an option. As Martin Mayhew affirmed Monday, they need help at outside linebacker. Respected NFL writer Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times slotted Barr, a UCLA product, to Tampa Bay at No. 7 in his latest mock draft. Other NFL analysts think he could slip into the 20s. “I still have kind of a fringe first-/second-round grade on him,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said in a conference call last week. “I like him. … I don’t want to give the impression I don’t like him, I just don’t think he’s as good as maybe where he’s projected to go. I’ve seen recently and talked to people recently that said, ‘No, he’s a top 10 pick.’ That’s a reach. And I think you’re taking a big gamble.” The difference in opinion on Barr stems from his rare athletic ability and All-America production — he had 23½ sacks the last two years, or half a sack fewer than the draft’s most talented player, Jadeveon Clowney, had in his three-year college career — coupled with his relative newness to the position. Barr missed most of his senior year of high school with a broken ankle. A little-used running back his first two seasons at UCLA, Barr switched to defense before the 2012 season and emerged as one of the best pass rushers in the country. He had 13½ sacks in 14 games as a junior and 10 more this past year.
Detroit Lions' NFL draft: Experts debate Anthony Barr's value, but he could be option at No. 10
Detroit Free Press | May 7