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UCLA’s Anthony Barr on the NFL Draft, NBA Playoffs & More

The converted running back only played linebacker for two years at UCLA, but he amassed 23½ sacks in that time and has NFL scouts salivating over his explosive speed and QB-crushing skills. We caught up with him in New York on the eve of the draft.

The NFL draft is pretty much a 12-month industry now, with the league, fans, and the press. Did it make your head spin being watched so closely your senior year?
It added a little bit of a distraction. Still, I had to go about my business. Every game was like an interview, and every day was really a test of character. I had to be at my best in all situations. It is a numbers game, with the sacks and all, but it was a pretty fun process.

The mock drafts have you going to Tennessee or the Giants or maybe the Cowboys. We know you’re probably not supposed to say, but are there any teams you’d like to play for, or against?
You know, I really don’t have any preference. I didn’t have a team growing up, being from L.A. So I’m unbiased. I’m just looking forward to playing in the NFL.

Since you didn’t have a football team in L.A., who’s your team?
My team is the Lakers.

Are you pulling for the Clippers in the playoffs this year?
Nah, I’m Lakers through and through.

It gets mentioned a lot that you only played two years at linebacker. Do you think that means you’ll have a longer learning curve in the NFL?
I picked it up pretty quickly the last couple of years and had a lot of success. I’ll continue to work and get better. I’ll be fine.

The NFL has certainly taken note of what a quick study you are. But what if a coach looks at your size (6’5”, 250) and versatility and says, “You know, if we switched you to tight end, you could be the next Tony Gonzalez”?
I doubt that will happen. I don’t picture myself playing any tight end in the NFL. But…you never know.

Along with Clowney, you’re considered the best potential pass rusher in the draft. Do you have a target you’d like to hit for number of sacks your rookie year?
First of all I want to get a job, get on a team, and earn a starting position. Then I’ll start setting goals for myself. It also depends on the team and how they play defense.

You may not be the No. 1 overall pick at the draft, but you got made into a sandwich sculpture full of pickles and peppers, which is even bigger, right?
I feel like I’m more in Subway’s hearts, so that’s all that matters.

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