Anthony Barr: Should the Houston Texans draft the OLB over a QB?


October 12, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) defends against the California Golden Bears during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s say for conversation’s sake the Houston Texans will indeed draft No. 1 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, and they don’t want to select quarterback Teddy Bridgewater or defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Who do they select?

ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper says the Texans should possibly draft UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr with their No. 1 overall pick.

On the Ultimate Texans blog, hosted by the Houston Chronicle, it said the following on Tuesday:

"“Mel Kiper Jr., one of ESPN’s draft experts, disagrees. He said on a web chat Tuesday the Texans should take either UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr or South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.”"

OK, let’s look at Barr and the current group of Texans outside linebackers.

The current depth chart for the Texans outside linebackers consists of Brooks Reed and Bryan Braman at the strong side and Whitney Mercilus and Ricky Sapp at the weak side.

More on them later.

Now back to Barr, who in 2013 has 63 tackles and 10 sacks. During his junior year, Barr had 83 tackles, 13.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.

The 6-4, 244 pound senior is the No. 1 ranked outside linebacker, and according to rankings on Scouts Inc. for 2014, he’s the No. 2 overall prospect, trailing Clowney.

Todd McShay of ESPN wrote about Barr:

"“I think some teams, especially those with 3-4 defensive alignments, will have a serious debate over whether to take him over Clowney.”"

The highest ranked quarterback on his list, another need of the Texans, is Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville at No. 8.

I believe Barr would be an upgrade over the current roster the Texans have at OLB, but is he really worth the No. 1 overall pick if the Texans have a choice of any player on the board?

Barr is described as “exceptional” on intangibles as his draft analysis says:

"“Respected by coaches and teammates. Excellent weight room and practice habits. Quiet and leads by example.”"

The OLB still has one collegiate game left to play, the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on Tuesday, Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. EDT on CBS when No. 17 UCLA faces Virginia Tech.

In Barr’s last three games of the regular season, he had five unassisted tackles in each game against Washington, Arizona State and Southern Cal.

If we look at the current group of Texans OLBs, Reed had collected 44 tackles and two sacks this season, having his best season to date in the tackles category. His career-high in tackles for a season is 45, his rookie season of 2011.

Mercilus is in just second season, totaling 42 tackles thus far with six sacks. Braman and Sapp have a combined 10 tackles this season in a reserve role.

What are your thoughts on the possibility of Barr being selected over a QB or Clowney?

This one makes me think, because I really feel the Texans can’t make the wrong choice in the Draft, no matter where they eventually end up selecting.

We all will have a chance to see what Barr has to offer in the Sun Bowl on the final day of the calendar year, and I for one will tune in just to see what he can do, because now I’m really interested in what he could possibly offer the Texans in 2014.