UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, who has become a defensive star for the Bruins over the last two years, was picked ninth overall in the NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.
The pick is a culmination of sorts for Barr, who spent his first two years at UCLA as a little-used F-back on offense. There was a point when he even considered quitting football. Then, with the arrival of Jim Mora, Barr made the switch to outside linebacker, where he quickly became a star, leading the team in sacks with 13.5 in 2012. Over the last year, he has been touted as a potential top ten pick in the Draft, and, on Thursday, he proved that talk accurate.
Barr is the second first-round pick for UCLA in as many years, after defensive end Datone Jones was drafted in the first round by Green Bay last year. Barr is the third UCLA player drafted by Minnesota in the last two years, joining punter Jeff Locke and guard Jeff Baca.
Xavier Su'a-Filo, who was expected to have a shot at being drafted in the first round, was not picked in the first 32 picks. Jordan Zumwalt, Shaquelle Evans, and Cassius Marsh are among the other UCLA players hoping to hear some good news over the next few days.
In Minnesota 4-3 scheme, it would not be a shock to see Barr line up as a defensive end at times, a move for which he was well-prepared this year, playing more of an end role during several games.
For UCLA under Mora, Barr is the fifth overall Draft pick in the last two years, with at least one more expected over the next couple of days.
Barr Picked Ninth in NFL Draft
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