New York Jets: Anthony Barr

Jets draft preview: Linebacker

May, 6, 2014
May 6
This is the eighth installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Linebacker

Current personnel: David Harris (signed through 2014), Demario Davis (2015), Quinton Coples (2015), Calvin Pace (2015), Antwan Barnes (2015), Nick Bellore (2014), Garrett McIntyre (2014), Jermaine Cunningham (2014), Tim Fugger (2016), Troy Davis (2015).

Projected starters: Harris (MLB), Demario Davis (WLB), Coples (Rush linebacker), Pace (SAM linebacker).

Newcomers: None.

Departures: None.

Top salary-cap charge: Harris, $7.0 million.

Scouting report: There are hidden needs at both inside and outside linebacker. The return of Pace, who signed a two-year, $5 million contract after recording a career-high 10 sacks, is a positive step. But it doesn't change the fact that the Jets are a middle-of-the-road pass-rushing team. They recorded sacks on only 4.6 percent of third-down dropbacks, lowest in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Their conventional rush was underwhelming. In fact, only the Houston Texans (two) intercepted fewer passes than the Jets (six)when using four or fewer pass rushers. They need a big season out of Coples and they need Barnes (ACL surgery) to return to his pre-injury form, which may be asking a bit much. The depth at inside linebacker is sketchy, with no proven players behind Harris and Demario Davis. Harris is heading into a contract year, so they have to prepare for the possibility of losing him next year.

Last LB drafted: Demario Davis was taken in the third round of the 2012 draft. Coples, a first-round pick that year, was originally selected as a lineman.

Potential targets: Look for them to draft at least one inside linebacker; whether they select an outside linebacker will depend on value. The pool of edge rushers isn't deep. There's a considerable dropoff after Khalil Mack (Buffalo), who will be long gone by the 18th pick. Anthony Barr (UCLA) could last, but it would be a surprise if they go in that direction. Barr, with only two years experience on defense, is talented, but raw. One name to watch in Round 2 is Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State), a hybrid player who visited the Jets. At 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, he has the right dimensions to make the conversion to outside linebacker. He recorded 20 sacks over the last two seasons, mostly as a down lineman. Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech) and Kyle Van Noy (Brigham Young) are players of the same ilk. Undersized Kevin Pierre-Louis (Boston College), who also visited, is a late-round possibility. So is tweener Larry Webster (Bloomsburg), the son of former NFL defensive lineman Larry Webster. At 6-5, 252 pounds, he ran a 4.58 40 at the combine. The only defensive lineman with a faster time was Jadeveon Clowney.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 7.

Daily draft dish: Anthony raises Barr

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
With draft day (May 8 ) rapidly approaching, we'll whet your appetite with a daily factoid, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information. We'll keep it New York Jets-centric, sticking to team needs, possible selections, trends, etc.

One of the most polarizing players in the draft is UCLA pass rusher Anthony Barr, a former fullback who didn't make the switch to defense until 2012. Some talent evaluators see him as a work-in-progress risk, but it's hard to quibble with his production.

Barr recorded 10 sacks, 20 tackles-for-loss and five forced fumbles last season, one of only three players to reach double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons. The others are Stanford's Trent Murphy and Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu. Barr racked up 13.5 sacks in 2012, not bad for a defensive neophyte. He was the only FBS player with 20 tackles-for-loss and five forced fumbles last season.

The Jets have invested a lot of resources in their front seven in recent years, but the need for an explosive edge rusher remains glaring. There's a chance Barr could be available with the 18th pick.