In last April's NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins aggressively traded up to secure the Oakland Raiders No. 3 overall selection. When the trade was announced, most in the media (myself included) assumed Miami was going to select an offensive tackle to protect Ryan Tannehill. Instead, the Dolphins surprised us all by securing Dion Jordan, the ultra-athletic pass rusher from Oregon.
Jordan wasn't the only athletic Pac-12 pass rusher to catch the attention of NFL scouts last fall. UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr put together a monster junior campaign, collecting 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss. Instead of declaring for the 2013 draft, he elected to return to UCLA for his senior season. As we approach the start of the college season, I thought it would be interesting to see how NFL talent evaluators would compare these two athletic defenders.
So, I posed the following question: Who is the better football player, Dion Jordan or Anthony Barr? Here are the results:
Executive No. 1: Close call, but Jordan gets edge
"This is a tough one. I'll go with Jordan because he affects the quarterback more than Barr. Jordan is a potential 15+ sack guy who brings fear on 3rd down. Barr is the better 1st and 2nd down player."
Executive No. 2: Jordan on a coin flip
"This is very close. I'll take Jordan but it's really a coin flip. Either way, you win."
Executive No. 3: Freaky doesn't mean better
"I think Barr is the better football player. Dion is definitely the freakier athlete. This is very close."
Executive No. 4: Barr more complete player
"Great question. Barr is the more complete football player on tape."
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Executive No. 5: Not close, Barr 'by far'
"Barr by far. He's much stronger, and he's not a one-trick pony. Jordan relies solely on speed."
Final verdict: Three votes for Barr, two for Jordan.
Conclusion: Four of the five executives made a point to mention how difficult it was to pick one player over the other. Barr is the stronger of the two players but Jordan has rare length and agility. I believe both guys have double-digit sack potential in the NFL but I would give the slight nod to Barr as the better overall football player. This is a topic that will be revisited numerous times over the next eight months.