By Josh Svetz
Many experts have tried to pinpoint what the Pittsburgh Steelers want to do in the upcoming draft. While many of them have recently suggested cornerback or defensive end, CBS Sports draft analyst Pat Kirwan has offered up another possibility in his latest mock.
As of Friday, Kirwan has the Steelers taking UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr with the 15th overall selection in the upcoming draft.
According to Kirwan, “The Steelers’ pass-rush production at outside linebacker has fallen off in recent years. Barr started playing defense just two years ago and in 27 games made 58 plays behind the line of scrimmage, including 22 sacks.”
Kirwan does bring up some interesting points; however our own Alex Kozora had an excellent overview of Barr.
“The realization with Barr though is that he’s a guy still honing his craft. He’s only played linebacker for two years. And he’s spent that time standing up in a 3-4.”
“He at least shows flashes of dominance as a pass rusher on tape. A lack of consistency isn’t surprising for a player so green. The important thing is there are moments on tape where you can look at him and say, “I know what he is capable of.”
That seems to ring true, as Barr has only played linebacker for a short time. Kozora sees Barr as a developmental player and I echo those sentiments.
The Steelers already have a project linebacker in Jarvis Jones, so it seems unlikely that they would add another one with their first pick with so many other needs to attend to. Having said that, unless linebacker Jason Worilds is signed to a long term deal between now and the start of the regular season, the team might need a new starter opposite Jones in 2015. Whatever the case, Kirwan’s thoughts on the Steelers drafting Barr is not completely off base.
Currently, the Steelers do have a pre-draft visit scheduled with Barr, according to our pre-draft tracker. However, as Kozora states in his profile of Barr, “While he does have a visit scheduled with the team, it’d be surprising if the Steelers’ snagged him at pick fifteen. With the starting outside linebackers set, there isn’t a reason to think they will spend another high draft pick on an edge rusher.”
We will see how Barr’s visit goes, as the only people that truly have an idea of what the Steelers will be doing with their first pick are General Manager Kevin Colbert and Head Coach Mike Tomlin.