Craig: Superlatives roll about LB Barr's natural talents

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 9, 2014 - 10:47 AM

Within an hour of drafting UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr ninth overall, the Vikings mentioned him in the same sentences with Jason Taylor, Chris Doleman and Von Miller.

For those keeping score, that’s a future Hall of Famer, a current Hall of Famer and the 2011 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

That’s the kind of ceiling placed on a guy when he’s 6-5, 255 pounds, runs a 4.47 40-yard dash and completes the three-cone agility drill faster than any of the cornerbacks at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

“You can’t coach what this guy has,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said. “It’s the same conversation we had last year with Cordarrelle Patterson.”

Oh yeah, did we mention they also compared him to last year’s raw athlete-turned-rookie-All-Pro-kick-returner?

Unlike former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, who didn’t utilize Patterson until the Vikings season was kaput, Spielman sounds confident that head coach/defensive mastermind Mike Zimmer will maximize Barr’s rare abilities. The new coach sounded like the wheels in his head started turning long ago.

“I’ve never had a linebacker that has the size and the speed and all the things this guy has,” said Zimmer, who spent 20 seasons as an NFL defensive assistant, including the past 14 as a coordinator of multiple top-10 defenses.

Although Barr has played linebacker for only two seasons, he’ll start at strong-side linebacker in a role Zimmer said compares to Miller’s role in Denver. Chad Greenway will be on the field with Barr, but Zimmer wouldn’t elaborate on where or how he’ll be used.

“Chad can play anywhere,” Zimmer said. “But I don’t want to let Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit know what we’re doing. I’m going to let them try to figure that out.”

Now, here are the knee-jerk reactions from Thursday night’s top-10 picks. We’ll revisit these a week before next year’s draft (ouch):

1. Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Knee-jerk: Yeah, he’s a once-in-a-generation physical freak. But does he want to do all it takes to be great? Based on last fall, it doesn’t appear he does. Houston, you have a problem player.

2. Rams: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Knee-jerk: Had Jake Matthews going here in Thursday’s mock, but this will be a better offensive tackle selection. This kid and those 35-inch arms and giant frame will dominate.

3. Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

Knee-jerk: The first wow moment of a wow round. And we thought the Jaguars reached too high for Blaine Gabbert at No. 10 three years ago. Can you really redshirt a raw player when you pick him No. 3? Expectations just became too unrealistic for Bortles.

4. Bills (trade with Browns): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Knee-jerk: Special size and speed will make him the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Buffalo’s No. 1 receiver.

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Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 1:30 PM
San Antonio
Cleveland 4:00 PM
Miami
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Chicago
Golden State 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
DePaul 31 2nd Half
Loyola Marymount 29
Ohio 3:00 PM
Nebraska
Colorado 5:30 PM
Hawaii
George Washington 7:30 PM
Wichita State
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
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Texas
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(20) Louisville
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(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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