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Dec 31, 2013; El Paso, TX, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) walks off the field after winning the 2013 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium. UCLA defeated Virginia Tech 42-12. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Mock Draft: UCLA LB Anthony Barr to Pittsburgh Steelers in ESPN Mock

With a little over 24 hours remaining until the start of the 2014 NFL Draft, ESPN’s SportsCenter did their annual NFL Nation Mock Draft.

October 12, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) defends against the California Golden Bears during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

While most people are expecting a wide receiver or cornerback, or even a trade, when the Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock at No. 15.

However ESPN’s Scott Brown threw a curveball when he selected UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr.

Barr is an exceptional playmaker coming off the edge who the Steelers could use, but is a guy that I really never considered to Pittsburgh as I don’t really feel he will be around when the Steelers select.

Brown noted that he attempted to trade down in the ESPN mock, but had no success.

He wrote:

LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller were still on the board when the Steelers were up at No. 15. And believe me, I strongly considered each player.

But I hadn’t anticipated Barr being there as well.

In the end I couldn’t pass on a player who could bolster the Steelers’ pass rush as well as provide immediate depth at a position where they sorely need it.

Nothing will help the Steelers’ defense regain its swagger more than if they add some teeth to their pass rush. Only five teams had less sacks than the 34 the Steelers managed in 2013.

Barr is a guy who struggles in coverage somewhat, but given his athleticism, that’s an area he should be able to improve.

However his biggest assets are his motor and ability to get to the quarterback.

The outside linebackers on the Steelers’ roster have a combined 24 career sacks, which amounts to only a half of a sack more than what Barr produced in his final two seasons at UCLA.

Barr’s 13.5 sacks in 2012 were second in the country only to Jarvis Jones, the Steelers’ first-round pick last year.

He could learn from the likes of Joey Porter and while he could make an impact in 2014, he would mostly provide depth behind Jones and Jason Worilds.

But with the Steelers not showing any commitment to Worilds beyond this season, the pick may make a little sense.

If Barr is available at No. 15 it may be hard not to pull the trigger on him, but at the end of the day I would be shocked if he doesn’t go before the Steelers pick.

Tags: 2014 NFL Mock Draft Anthony Barr Pittsburgh Steelers

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