Dec 31, 2013; El Paso, TX, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) during the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2013 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium. UCLA defeated Virginia Tech 42-12. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN's Mel Kiper projects Anthony Barr to Atlanta Falcons in latest NFL mock draft

After the Super Bowl concluded, the entire NFL universe shifted their sights to the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft, and with the Falcons possessing the #6 overall pick, all of Atlanta is keyed in even tighter than in previous years. With that, ESPN’s Mel Kiper (the draft guru of all draft gurus) has released his latest mock draft as of Thursday, and he has an interesting selection for the Falcons.

At #6, the Falcons are projected to take Anthony Barr, an outside linebacker from UCLA. Here is Kiper’s snippet about Barr:

Analysis: There will be questions about the type of scheme Barr is best suited for, but we probably pay too much attention to that. In Atlanta, Barr could easily work in what we’d traditionally call a 4-3, standing up on the edge and using his exceptional quickness to create pressure, something the Falcons need to find. Last year, they looked to upgrade the secondary, but that group will be exposed if they can’t find a more consistent rush. I also think Barr can add some muscle without losing that lightning first step.

During FanSided’s local mock draft in January, ATL All Day selected Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, but Barr was prominently mentioned as a consideration for Thomas Dimitroff and company. Kiper’s selection is an interesting one for me, simply because the aforementioned Matthews was “on the board” for Atlanta (and ESPN’s Todd McShay actually projects Matthews to go at #6), but he has the Falcons passing due to some concerns about Matthews’ prospects as a left tackle.

Barr would be an immediate stud from the moment he set foot in Flowery Branch, but it’s tough to reconcile linebacker as the “biggest need”, even in the wake of Stephen Nicholas being released earlier in the week. There will be many voices weighing in on what Atlanta should do in the coming weeks and months, but this is an interesting one.

Tags: Anthony Barr Atlanta Falcons

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