2014 APC Mock Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers Select Linebacker Anthony Barr

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

As we approach the halfway mark in the 2014 APC NFL Mock Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves on the clock. Their selection is...

The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves with a great opportunity with the ability to select a difference maker with the No. 15 pick overall. The question is will this projected draft day slide for a top pass-rushing prospect come to fruition?

Background

Since losing the 2011 Wild Card playoff game to the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos, the Steelers have turned in consecutive 8-8 seasons and have consequently missed the playoffs in both seasons. The reasons for the Steelers recent decline are plentiful, but the majority of the blame lies with the once-feared defensive unit. The bottom line for the Steelers' defense is they are in desperate need of young playmakers. They decided to release Larry Foote and LaMarr Woodley — decisions that were tough, but needed to be made.

They managed to resign Jason Worilds using the transition tag, which will pay him just over $9 million in 2014. He will become an unrestricted free agent in 2015 unless he works out a long-term deal. Talent-wise, the Steelers have a number of pieces to work with.

Jarvis Jones, the Steelers' 2013 first-round pick, is a promising young player who had a roller coaster-like rookie season. The good news for Steelers fans is that players typically make a big jump in production from year one to year two, and the Steelers will need a lot more production out of Jones in 2014.

The aforementioned Worilds was a highly coveted player this offseason with a handful of teams interested in obtaining his services. He decided to sign his transition tender with Pittsburgh in the hopes the two sides can reach a long-term deal sometime this season. Worilds was a very productive player for the Steelers defense in 2013, a unit which finished 13th in the NFL in total yards against. He accumulated eight sacks and really turned it on towards the end of the year after a slow start to the season.

Worilds and Jones will be the starters at outside linebacker, with Lawrence Timmons and Vince Williams manning the inside positions. While the starters are solid for the Steelers, the depth behind them is far from it.

The Steelers do have some other needs, including corner, wide receiver, offensive line and tight end.

The ideal pick I would make for the Steelers would be cornerback Darqueze Dennard out of Michigan State. Unfortunately, our APC mock draft has the Chicago Bears taking Dennard a pick before the Steelers at No. 14.

With that said, who is left for the Steelers at No. 15?

With the 15th overall pick in the 2014 APC Mock Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select...

Name: Anthony Barr
Postion: OLB
School: UCLA
Year: Senior

Simply put, it would be impossible for the Steelers to pass up on Anthony Barr if he were to slide to them at pick number 15. Barr has been a consensus top 10 pick throughout the draft process, but for some reason his stock has taken a hit as of late. At one time he was ranked ahead of Buffalo University OLB/DE Khalil Mack, however, by most accounts Mack has surpassed Barr in terms of draft stock.

Regardless of the reasons for his draft stock falling, Barr is going to be an outstanding player at the next level.

Barr has exceptional speed and acceleration for a man that runs 6-foot-5, 255 pounds. His pursuit and ability to run a play down is second to none among incoming prospects at his position. Barr has a nastiness about him that reminds one of old school Pittsburgh Steelers football.

While Barr has all the physical tools necessary to be a successful player at the next level, growing pains are to be expected from him during his rookie season. Barr has developing instincts and has some kinks to work out. According to one scout I spoke to, Barr's motor can be "hot and cold" and he seems to "take plays off and becomes disinterested too often." With that said, Barr is only 22 years old and could be a force for the Steelers for the next decade.

Sure there are some weaknesses to Barr's game, but name a defensive end/outside linebacker to enter the NFL Draft in the last 10 years that didn't. There's a reason why many scouts have Barr as a sure-fire top 10 pick. He's the real deal and by year three in the NFL he could develop into a true star.

Barr will be impossible for the Steelers to pass up at No. 15, but maybe even more impossible is the likelihood that Barr reaches them in the first place. For whatever reason Barr was available in our mock draft, and the Steelers were metaphorically ecstatic to select him with the 15th overall pick.

Round One Summary

Pick Team Player Position School
1 Houston Texans Blake Bortles QB Central Florida
2 St. Louis Rams Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina
3 Jacksonville Jaguars Khalil Mack OLB Buffalo
4 Cleveland Browns Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M
5 Oakland Raiders Sammy Watkins WR Clemson
6 Atlanta Falcons Greg Robinson OT Auburn
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Evans WR Texas A&M
8 Minnesota Vikings Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville
9 Buffalo Bills Jake Matthews OT Texas A&M
10 Detroit Lions Justin Gilbert CB Oklahoma State
11 Tennessee Titans Aaron Donald DT Pittsburgh
12 New York Giants Eric Ebron TE North Carolina
13 St. Louis Rams Ha Ha Clinton-Dix S Alabama
14 Chicago Bears Darqueze Dennard CB Michigan State
15 Pittsburgh Steelers Anthony Barr OLB UCLA

This afternoon Aron will continue the 2014 APC Mock Draft with his pick for the Dallas Cowboys.

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