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Jim Mora: Anthony Barr reminds me of John Abraham

LOS ANGELES -- Jim Mora is a busy man nowadays. He doesn't face the pressures he once did as an NFL head coach, but his schedule at UCLA is thicker than he would like as he tries to cram in as many film sessions as possible.

There are the chats with boosters and the autographs for fans. There's plenty of handshakes and small talk with recruits and their parents. And don't forget the LA media contingent he has to face on a daily basis.

One thing he doesn't mind however is taking calls from NFL front offices about his former players. Lately his phone has been buzzing constantly about linebacker Anthony Barr, who is a possible top 10 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft but is starting to see his stock dip a bit as the draft approaches in May.

"I think there's always going to be risers and fallers this time of year," Mora told College Football 24/7. "I get a kick out of it. I've gotten a lot of phone calls lately about Anthony, from head coaches to general managers. I think the stock falling or rising is a bit of a media sensation rather than a reality. It only takes one team to really love you up high and will go get you. I'll tell you this: Whoever drafts Anthony -- whether it's the first pick, the 10th pick, the 20th pick or the 250th pick -- is getting a great football player and a guy that's going to continue to get better and better."

Barr has been near the top of NFL draft boards thanks to two prolific seasons for the Bruins since moving from running back to linebacker in 2012. Although he made the switch when Mora and company took over in Westwood, he actually has less than two full years as a linebacker under his belt because of missed time with injuries. Combine that with the draft's dearth of elite edge pass rushers, and it's easy to see why Barr was slated to go as high as sixth overall in a recent mock draft.

Mora, who spent over three decades in the NFL as a coach, didn't have to think long when asked whom Barr reminds him of, and he brought up a few comparisons that don't often come to mind when looking at outside linebackers.

"John Abraham a little bit," Mora said. "They're the same size, but John is a little bit heavier. Both very fluid, good hands, explosive. I think he's got a little DeMarcus Ware in him. I even went back to Pat Swilling from the old days. He's a smaller guy, but he's got a little Chris Doleman in him."

The Abraham comparison is intriguing because Mora knows all about him from his days in Atlanta. Barr is about 20 pounds lighter than Abraham, but Mora has already told a few coaches that Barr has the frame to bulk up and fill a similar role at the next level.

"For a 3-4 team, he's definitely an outside linebacker," Mora said. "I do think he could weigh 260 pounds and maintain his speed and quickness, to play defensive end for a 4-3 team. He was our right end in nickel. He didn't feel comfortable going down (with a hand in the ground) and just rushed from a two-point (stance). He'll get better at that."

That's the scary part for teams that elect to pass on Barr early in the draft. With scouts frequently talking about how high a prospect's ceiling is, Barr might just have the highest of anybody on the defensive side of the ball.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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