The Oakland Raiders are looking to make waves this offseason by using their excessive salary cap space and the 2014 NFL Draft to load up on talent for next season. Oakland holds the fifth selection in this year's draft and will consider a number of possibilities. One player who could entice the Raiders' brass is outside linebacker and defensive end Anthony Barr.
General manager Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen both possess a defensive background with McKenzie a former NFL linebacker and Allen a defensive assistant and former defensive coordinator. They know the importance of being able to pressure opposing quarterbacks in today's NFL. Ideally, they would love to have a chance at South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney at the fifth pick, but with his physical gifts and talent it would be a long shot if he was available. Yesterday, the Raiders inked defensive coordinator Jason Tarver to a new contract, ensuring the team will continue their blitzing, pressure style of defense. Barr would be a nice fit in that scheme because of his knack for penetrating opposing backfields.
Barr started his career at UCLA on the offensive side of the ball as a running back. He actually scored two touchdowns as a sophomore before switching to outside linebacker his junior season. After the position switch, Barr began to establish himself as a standout prospect. He amassed 42.5 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks, and 10 forced fumbles in two years. He has good size at 6'4", 245 pounds, but will need to add more strength to match-up at the next level. He is an explosive athlete, who finishes tackles with power. He would be a great fit for the Raiders as a versatile defender who can play defensive end and outside linebacker. His specialty is getting after quarterbacks, which would give Tarver and Allen a piece to move around the defense and cause match-up nightmares. He also has the ability to drop in coverage because of his quick feet.
The Raiders are in need of help at several different positions. Barr will be an option only if McKenzie and the other decision makers don't fall in love with one of the quarterback prospects. Last season, they selected cornerback DJ Hayden, so they will get the player they like regardless of projections or mock draft evaluations. It also gives the Raiders an option to explore trading down and getting Barr a few picks later.
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