Better Prospect: Anthony Barr 2013 Vs. Dion Jordan 2012?
Going into last year’s season, Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan was considered a sure first-round pick. With incredible size, (6-foot-6, 248 pounds) and speed, he didn’t need to do much in 2012 to cement his spot at the top of the draft class. He went ahead and had a very good 2012 season, though not as impressive as 2011, and he showcased his speed and athleticism at the NFL Combine. Jordan wound up being drafted third overall by the Miami Dolphins and played his first preseason game last night where he had two tackles, a couple of pressures and lined up all over the defensive front.
UCLA's Anthony Barr is a similar prospect. He’s not as tall as Jordan (Barr is 6-4, 245), but their styles of play are very comparable. They are both a part of that new hybrid movement, the one which includes players like Aldon Smith, Clay Matthews, and Mathias Kiwanuka. They could be considered outside linebackers or defensive ends, and often they'll play both in the course of a game. They rush the quarterback from the outside on most plays but they could drop back into coverage every now and then. I see Jordan as more of a defensive end only suited for a 3-4 defense (even though the Dolphins play primarily a 4-3). Barr would also be a good fit for a 3-4, but he is more capable of a 4-3 plan than Jordan.
Barr had a monster year in 2012, recording 13.5 sacks, 83 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss and 5 passes defended. It was his first year as a defensive player; he switched from running back to wide receiver to tight end in his first two years at UCLA but then he finally found a home at outside linebacker. At last year’s junior timing day, Barr ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, which is unheard of for any defensive player other than a corner or safety. That time was .13 seconds quicker than Jordan’s Combine time.
It’s tough to say whether Barr is a better prospect right now than Jordan was going into last season. Jordan had an outstanding junior season 7.5 sacks, 13 TFL, 42 tackles) in what was his first year on the defensive side of the ball. But Barr actually had a more impressive junior season. The expectations of Barr’s senior season are eerily similar to Jordan’s, and even though Jordan didn’t have as good a year in 2012, he was still the first defensive player selected in the 2013 Draft.
Barr’s stock can only rise from here. As long as he stays healthy, doesn’t make any off-field mistakes and has another productive year, he’s got a good shot at being the second defensive player selected in the 2014 draft -- only because we already know Jadeveon Clowney is the best player in the world right now. I do believe he’s in the same exact position as Jordan was this time last year. He’s a unique talent and I can see him and Jordan being compared to each other for many NFL seasons to come.