|Chris Carlson / Associated Press|
|UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr can be a versatile, Julian Peterson-type player, according to Bucky Brooks.|
Has "Collapsing for Clowney" given way to "Bombing for Barr?" If you run a 3-4 defense, it has, with NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks pointing to the production and versatility UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr has shown this season to outpace South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
"If we're just going off of what has been done on the tape, Anthony Barr has outplayed him. And when you really think about his versatility and what he brings to the table, I think you can make an argument that he may be a guy that is more worthy of being selected at the top of the board than Jadeveon Clowney based on what we have seen on the tape on the field," Brooks said on the College Football 24/7 Podcast.
Barr has 18 tackles with five tackles for loss (one sack), three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery through three games this season, while Clowney has 10 tackles with three tackles for loss (two sacks) and one forced fumble in the same span.
More important, Barr has lined up in multiple positions -- playing outside linebacker and defensive end and even covering slot receivers -- whereas Clowney is limited to coming off the edge or playing inside on obvious passing downs. Brooks sees Barr as a Julian Peterson-type player who can be deployed in a variety of ways, but with pass-rushing skills comparable to those of Clay Matthews.
Barr has played only 17 games as a defender but has 26.5 tackles for loss with 14.5 sacks in that span. A senior, he played H-back in his first two seasons with the Bruins and is only scratching the surface of his potential, another check in Barr's favor, Brooks said.
"As an evaluator, you're thinking, 'If I get him coached up and put him with the right coach and the right scheme, this guy will go from good to great in no time because he is still trying to figure out what to do,'" Brooks said.
Barr has gone out of his way to avoid or downplay comparisons to Clowney. When asked by Matt "Money" Smith about how he projects in the NFL, Barr pointed to the more multi-faceted aspects of his game.
"I just think I'm a three-down guy," Barr said. "I can cover the tight end, cover the back out of the backfield. I can rush the passer, I can play the run. I can just do it all."
The preferred defensive alignment of teams at the top of the 2014 NFL Draft will probably dictate whether Barr or Clowney is the first defender off the board.
As Brooks notes, Clowney could be the next Julius Peppers, whereas Barr is like Von Miller, who has alternated between outside linebacker in a 3-4 look and strongside linebacker in the Broncos' current 4-3 scheme.
Said Brooks: "If you are weighing the two, it comes down to what is the scheme and what is the best fit for what you want to do."
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.