Ronde Barber has been a terrific cornerback throughout his career, but he has never been a traditional, shutdown cornerback. Instead, Ronde Barber has been the prototype Tampa 2 cornerback: hard-tackling with the ability to read quarterbacks and route combinations, and a great ability to break on the ball. This skill-set has made Ronde Barber a movable chess piece for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bucs' website has been showing some pretty interesting videos, in which DB coach Jimmy Lake breaks down the play of Ronde Barber. In the latest video (that's part 2 of the series, part 1 can be found here), he talks about a play against the Baltimore Ravens where Ronde Barber nearly picked off Joe Flacco. The play evolved as it did because Ronde Barber dropped to the deep middle of the field after aligning as a slot cornerback. What this video really shows off is Ronde's ability break on the ball and read the quarterback and route combination. Incredibly, Ronde Barber jumps the route not only before the ball is thrown, but even before Anquan Boldin makes his break.
What this video shows off more than anything else, though, is the way Ronde's experience allows him to be used by the Buccaneers. I keep comparing him to Charles Woodson, who was the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year. Ronde Barber is used in a very similar role, as both play inside on passing downs and are used in a variety of roles. As in-the-box roaming defenders, as straightforward cornerbacks, as blitzers and as safeties. This versatility is tremendously valuable to the Bucs, even when Ronde isn't shutting down receivers.