In case no one told you, the draft is just over 11 days away. No one seems certain who is going where, but it seems very likely Atlanta will not have a chance at Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack or Greg Robinson without trading up.
Anthony Barr was a top-rated prospect until after the season when the draft folk killed Barr for his lack of a full library of pass rush skills. That is true, as Barr only played defensive end for two full years in college, so is far from a complete and polished pass rusher. Can Barr learn all the pass rushing moves needed to become an elite player and not rely on his fantastic athleticism?
The consensus: Mack will be the better prospect early in his career. After that? According to NFL analysts, it is not as clear.
Bryan Fischer explains:
It's not just the level of competition that factors in, but the fact Barr's ceiling is so much higher. A lot of folks make a big deal about him only playing linebacker for two years, but he nearly matched Mack's four-year sack total and had more than 20 tackles for loss each season. He has the production, the size and the ability to develop into a Pro Bowl player at the next level.
Charles Davis hedges his answer so much he should be a lawyer, but still had this to say:
My feeling is that both Mack and Barr will be successful pros. In three seasons, when Barr has added more experience to his playing time on defense, I expect him to really be at the top of his game.
Bucky Brooks, a well respected former player and analyst, gave Barr the biggest endorsement:
I'm a big Anthony Barr fan. Think about what he has been able to accomplish in only two years playing on the defensive side of the ball -- 158 tackles, 41.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. I think he's a natural pass rusher at the next level and will be dominant. You put him as an OLB in a 3-4 defense and let him go. He'll be a double-digit sack artist. Mack is much more NFL-ready at this point, but in three years I don't think it will be even close.
I'm not sure if there has been a player as raw as Barr since Jason Pierre-Paul, who played only one year at South Florida after two seasons of play in community college. He has dealt with injuries recently but JPP came along quickly and was coached up into an elite player.
As far as Mack, the small school debate still remains. He played against Ohio, Baylor and just about no one else. UCLA doesn't exactly play in the SEC but the level of competition is easily greater.
Do you feel better with the player with the better performance against higher competition and the higher ceiling, or the guy who can make an immediate impact and has a significantly higher floor despite playing against subpar competition?