One of the most glaring needs for the Falcons over the past several seasons has been the deficiency in pass rushing. While the Falcons did make two large (figuratively and literally) moves in free agency, adding nose tackle Paul Soliai and 3-4 defensive end Tyson Jackson, Kroy Biermann is currently the most intimidating pass rushing outside linebacker option on Atlanta's roster. The Falcons need someone who can rush the passer, and that just might be UCLA's Anthony Barr, who will have the opportunity to display his talent for the Falcons in a private workout, per Vaughn McClure at ESPN.
Barr is widely considered to be one of the top OLB prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft. Barr transitioned to outside linebacker from running back, and has a high ceiling with tons of natural talent and athleticism. His feel for the position and the instincts that develop along with that are somewhat lacking as a result of the fairly recent transition to outside linebacker. Barr will likely have some growing pains in adjusting to playing the position at the professional level, because he was still showing signs of adjusting to the position at the collegiate level.
Barr's production, however, was remarkable over the course of his two seasons at OLB with UCLA. He racked up 23.5 sacks in two seasons at the position and showed a lot of explosiveness off the edge. He has the potential to be excellent.
After a lackluster showing at the Combine with a 4.66 40-yard dash and 15 bench press reps, Barr's draft stock may have dropped somewhat, which increases the likelihood that he's a viable option for Atlanta without trading to move up in the draft. Barr was more impressive at his Pro Day, clocking a 4.45 40 time and increasing his bench press reps to 19. A private workout with the Falcons will give the coaching staff a much better idea of how likely Barr is to be NFL-ready and live up to his considerable potential.
Barr is not my favorite OLB prospect, but he does have a lot of natural talent and athletic ability. The fact that he has transitioned to the outside linebacker position fairly recently and will likely have a learning curve associated with adapting to playing that position in the NFL raises the question of whether he's the right choice for Atlanta in the first round. It's possible Atlanta could facilitate a trade down to pick later than sixth if Barr is their target.
For more on Barr, be sure to check out our own Alec Shirkey's scouting report on him. What do you think about Barr as a fit for the Falcons?