|Gary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY Sports|
|Anthony Barr, a converted running back, excelled in his first season on the defensive side of the ball.|
Four out of five NFL executives polled by Daniel Jeremiah said choosing between Miami Dolphins rookie linebacker Dion Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft out of Oregon, and UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr was too close to call.
The last, however, went with the Bruins senior and indicated it wasn't even close.
Said the unnamed executive: "Barr by far. He's much stronger, and he's not a one-trick pony. Jordan relies solely on speed."
The raw numbers are definitely in Barr's favor. Jordan, who arrived in Eugene as a tight end, had 14.5 sacks, 29 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles in his college career. After spending two seasons as an H-back, Barr posted 13.5 sacks, 21.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles in his first year on defense.
Barr was relying on his natural athleticism and is only now beginning to understand the nuances of the position.
"He learns, he understands and he takes the coaching," UCLA defensive coordinator Lou Spanos said after the Bruins' spring game. "You only have to tell him once. He understands football."
Jordan is the more versatile player, capable of lining up anywhere in the defensive front seven. Oregon even called on Jordan to cover slot receivers, but Barr has the power and speed to dominate at and behind the line of scrimmage.
Ironically, Barr is the "one-trick pony," as that executive said to dismiss Jordan, right now. But in an NFL where getting to the quarterback is at an all-time premium, that trick sets Barr apart.
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.