I watched both of the games he played in trying to decide what would be his best position on the next level, considering how improbable at seems a player with his size would actually stick at running back.
It didn't take long to watch him to see why he's so highly ranked, although he was not what I expected. He is as fluid an athlete as Terrelle Pryor, light on his feet, able to turn his hips and change directions like a wide receiver. What I expected was a power back. What I saw was the equivalent of putting one of the NFL's bigger receivers, like Larry Fitzgerald, and running him out of the backfield.
In the open field he runs a bit too upright, making him susceptible to big hits from out of his initial range of vision, like a linebacker pursuing laterally. That being said, he does a remarkable job of getting low in traffic and protecting himself and the ball.
I have a decidedly defensive bias if I'm trying to project a player between one of two position, and my initial impression of watching Barr was that he was purely an offensive player. Whether it's running back, h-back, tight end, or wide receiver, he's a guy that looks like he was born to have the ball in his hands.
On defense, he lined up 20 yards deep at the safety spot and seemed reluctant to initiate contact. I began thinking "no way is this kid a defensive player."
Then the game wore on.
Barr inched closer to the line of scrimmage, covered a tight end on an out route, burst on an underthrown ball and took it 87 yards the other way for a touchdown. If I'm looking for a linebacker to cover a tight end, I just witnessed a thing of beauty.
From that point on, Barr was a different player in the game on defense, delivering big hits, supporting the run, and punishing receivers coming across the middle.
Barr went down late in the first quarter in his second game after a player pursuing from behind rolled up on the back of his legs. The ankle injury will sideline him for the season, but should not affect what should be a spectacular college career.
While Barr is an outstanding running back, I now see him more of a player that could be an Antonio Gates type of tight end on offense. On defense, he'd be a lights out free safety with his coverage skills and break on the ball. If he were to end up at linebacker, I'd just need to see him take on blocks better and be physical enough at the point of attack to not be a liability against a power running game.
In short, sign the kid and let the offensive and defensive coaches fight it out for him once he gets on campus.
Here is a look at his senior season highlights from ScoutTV
#2 RB/S Anthony Barr