The NFL’s best outside linebackers, No. 3: Anthony Barr
Moments after the Vikings picked Barr No. 9 overall in 2014, I wrote, “In the perfect scenario, Barr develops into a three-down player that has as much sideline-to-sideline ability as any linebacker in the league.” Turns out the Vikings knew what they were doing with that pick, because that’s more or less exactly what has gone down. In just two years time, Barr has emerged as an irreplaceable cornerstone in Mike Zimmer’s defense. As was the case when he was racking up 23.5 sacks over the 2012 and ’13 seasons for UCLA, Barr can be disruptive as a blitzer (3.5 sacks and 12 hurries last season). But he is far, far more than a one-trick pony—Pro Football Focus graded him out as the NFL’s top pass-rushing 4–3 linebacker, the third-best in coverage and above average against the run. His development has been swift and impressive.