CHICAGO -- The Bears traveled to Los Angeles in late March to conduct a private workout with UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
ESPN NFL Draft Insider Mel Kiper Jr. projects Barr as being selected by the San Diego Chargers at No. 25 overall in the next month’s draft. Both Kiper and fellow ESPN Draft Insider Todd McShay rank Barr as the second best outside linebacker in the 2014 draft class.
Barr began his UCLA career in the Bruins’ offensive backfield where he lined up primarily at H back and appeared in 24 games and made 11 starts over the course of his freshman and sophomore year.
However, the 6-foot-5, 255 pound Barr made the switch to defense before his junior year and exploded with 13.5 sacks, 21.5 tackles-for-loss and 83 tackles in 2012. His 13.5 sacks were the second highest total in the nation behind only Georgia’s Jarvis Jones (14.5).
Barr followed up that effort with 62 tackles, 10 sacks, 20 tackles-for-loss, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries last season for the Bruins.
Most draft analysts consider Barr a better fit in a 3-4 defense where he can stand up and rush the passer, but the Bears have been known to make unorthodox selections the last two years. Few people predicted 2012 first-round choice Shea McClellin would be taken by a team that used a 4-3 defense, but the Bears snatched the hybrid McClellin up with the No. 19 overall pick.
On the surface, the Bears appear to have a greater need at inside linebacker, but Barr is an elite athlete, who ran a 4.41 40 yard dash in front of scouts at his pro day at UCLA.