Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

NFL.com Matt Smith Projects Giants to Draft Anthony Barr


 

NFL.com analysts have projected the New York Giants to draft players like Eric Ebron and Taylor Lewan in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. On Thursday, NFL.com Media Analyst Matt Smith‘s latest Mock Draft projected the Giants to draft Anthony Barr with the 12th-overall pick.

The Giants began last season with a horrendous 0-6 start. They managed to win seven of their final 10 games to avoid a terrible season; 7-9 record.

This was the first time that they had finished with a record below .500 since the 2003 season. The Giants finished that season with a terrible 4-12 record.

They have at least four positions of need in the upcoming NFL Draft. Those four positions are at left tackle, tight end, wide receiver and defensive tackle, according to Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com.

Giants’ defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has been a member of the team’s coaching staff since Jan. 14, 2010, according to Giants.com. Last season, the team’s defense had a good season.

Their defense ranked 18th in points allowed, eighth in total yards allowed, 10th in passing yards allowed and 14th in rushing yards allowed per game, according to NFL.com. The biggest weakness for the team last season was their sack total.

Last season, the Giants’ defense struggled tremendously to sack opposing quarterbacks. They finished the season in a three-way tie, with the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers, for the 25th-most sacks, according to NFL.com.

Fewell has been running a 4-3 defense with the Giants. Jeremiah wrote that “…the 4-3 defense requires a dynamic interior pass rush rusher.”

The problem for the Giants is that they let defensive end Justin Tuck walk in free agency. Their current interior pass rushers are Robert Ayers, Cullen Johnson and Mike Patterson; the latter two are at least 30-years-old.

Last season, Ayers had 29 total tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble with the Denver Broncos. On Wednesday, the Giants signed the 28-year-old to a two-year deal.

Ayers and Patterson are both likely to be rotational players instead of starters, so the Giants could use a defensive line starter in the draft, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.

Jeremiah listed Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald and Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan as two defensive tackles the Giants could draft with the 12th-overall pick. The Giants could go with another option to get a good interior pass rusher for Fewell’s 4-3 defense.

A good interior pass rusher does not have to necessarily be a defensive end or a defensive tackle. Some of the best pass rushers in the NFL last year were linebackers like Robert Mathis of the Indianapolis Colts, 19.5 sacks, and Junior Galette of the New Orleans Saints, 12.0 sacks.

Smith’s most recent Mock Draft appeared on NFL.com on Thursday. His Mock Draft projected the Giants to select Barr, UCLA linebacker, with the 12th-overall pick.

Barr began his collegiate career with the Bruins as a running back. Prior to the 2012 season, his head coach Jim Mora encouraged him to switch his position from running back to outside linebacker, according to NFL.com.

In 2012, he led his team in sacks and tackles for loss. This contributed to him being named a First Team All-PAC 12 player and a Second Team All-American, according to NFL.com.

He also led his team in sacks and tackles for loss the following season; 2013 season. This time he was named a First Team All-American, according to NFL.com.

At 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 255 pounds, according to NFL.com, he has the size and speed to be an effective pass rusher in the NFL. He is more raw than the majority of linebackers in the draft because he has only played linebacker at the collegiate level for two years.

This means that the sky is the limit on his potential. NFL.com listed Pro FootballWeekly.com Senior Editor Nolan Nawrocki’s scouting report on Barr.

A highly disruptive, athletic specimen with the pass-rush potential to effortlessly emerge as a double-digit sack producer. Is far from a finished product and his best football is still ahead of him, yet he plays the game with more of an offensive temperament and could require some patience. Is the type of rare athlete that could even contribute as an offensive playmaker once he learns to grasp defensive concepts and the game slows down for him. A top-10 talent.”

When the 2013 season concluded, Barr was considered a potential top five overall pick by some experts. He was coming off a fantastic season where he had 66 tackles, 20.0 of his tackles were for a loss, 10.0 sacks and six forced fumbles.

Barr would be a steal for the Giants, if he is still available by the time they make their first draft selection. A raw player like Barr has plenty of risks, but the rewards could be tremendous when he completes his development.

The Giants’ superb pass rush contributed to them winning two Super Bowls against the New England Patriots in the 2000s. Barr has the potential to upgrade the Giants’ front-seven to an elite unit in a few seasons.

Should the New York Giants draft Anthony Barr, if he is available, with the 12th overall pick?

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