Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has a great track record of getting the most out of his linebackers. After the Vikings selected Anthony Barr with 9th pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Zimmer is certainly excited to get an opportunity to mold Barr into the dynamic playmaker he thinks he can be. Zimmer has never had a linebacker with the size, speed and athleticism of the 6-5 255 pound UCLA product. Barr has extreme potential but he is very raw and still learning the linebacker position. Barr was not used as an off-the-line backer nor was he asked to drop into coverage often. 

Anthony Barr had some monster hits and big plays last season, but for the most part he didn’t show up on tape as often as expected. Part of that is because he spent a good chunk of time lined up on the line of scrimmage, sometimes in a three point stance trying to bull rush offensive tackles. Barr is not a strength power player, he is more of a finesse speed guy that will benefit when moved to a more traditional linebacker position.

 Barr is a great edge rusher with outstanding closing speed… if he get a little crease to work with, look out. I see Zimmer using Barr’s edge rushing ablitiy in sub packages early on as a strong side linebacker much like how he used James Harrison last season in Cincinnati. Harrison was 35 and coming off back surgery but still play nearly 400 snaps in 10 games. Barr will certainly find his way onto the football field even if it means moving Greenway to WLB. Zimmer typically blitz more from the strongside than the weakside.

In the clips below notice where James Harrison is lined up. These schemes will maximize Barr’s potential early on as he develops more experience and skill as a traditional 4-3 drop back linebacker in the NFL.

 james harrison 4-3 base copyjames harrison copy

I love the #9 pick, and I can’t wait to watch Zimmer shape Barr into a beast in the NFL. The 31st ranked defense just got better.Barr1