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Raising the Barr in Arizona

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Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Chances are that when free agency starts next week, the Cardinals are going to make at least one huge splash signing on defense—-and OLB/DE Anthony Barr could very well be the water thundering jackknife.

Imagine having two 6’5” superbly athletic 34 OLB bookends in Chandler Jones and Anthony Barr.

In Arizona, Barr would be playing at his most natural position. As a 43 OLB with the Vikings, Mike Zimmer elected to use Barr more as a chaser and cover OLB than as a pass rusher. Here is a look at some of his splash plays in 2018:

But, toward the end of last season, Zimmer started rushing Barr more from the edge and he was consistently pressuring the QB. And why not? Barr was a pass rushing dynamo at UCLA, where he put up 152 career tackles, 41.5 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks and forced 6 fumbles.

At the 2014 Combine, Barr’s test numbers were outstanding and let’s, for example, match them up with Nick Bosa’s and Chandler Jones’:

40 yard dash: Barr (4.66), Bosa (4.79), Jones (4.87)

225 reps: Barr (15), Bosa (29), Jones (22)

Vertical Jump: Barr (34.5”), Bosa (33.5”), Jones (35”)

Broad Jump : Barr (119”), Bosa (116”), Jones (120”)

3 Cone: Barr (6.82), Bosa (7.1), (7.07)

20 yard shuttle: Barr (4.19), Bosa (4.19), Jones (4.38)

Other than the reps at 225, the numbers indicate that Anthony Barr is quicker and more athletic than Bosa and Jones. A 6.82 3 cone at his size is extraordinary. That’s within range of Von Miller’s phenomenal 6.70.

Barr is 26 and heading into his prime. He is a great deal stronger than he was coming out of college and he hasn’t lost any of his speed and quickness.

What some team needs to do is turn Anthony Barr loose off the edge. If that team is Arizona, Barr can learn the tricks of the trade from Chandler Jones and he could be a mirror image of Jones from the opposite side. And in a division where the Cardinals have to chase Russell Wilson around twice a year, Barr’s quickness and speed as a chaser is an added plus.

Raising the Barr in Arizona—-fits the theme of the Cardinals’ 2019 off-season.