NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Mark Barron from Alabama arrives on the red carpet during the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
There was quite a bit of criticism for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they traded down and selected Mark Barron with the seventh overall pick, but it didn't take long for the story to change. Mark Barron had been a steady riser on media draft boards in the days leading up to the draft, and as soon as the draft ended positive opinions on the safety started to come out. And, quite frankly, the more I watch him play, the more I like the selection. I'll talk about that a little later, but I want to highlight two Gregs who talked about Mark Barron recently: Schiano and Cosell.
Let's start with Schiano, who talked about Barron for a group of season ticket holders at an event at One Buc Place, taped by our very own akbrown15. It's interesting to see what Schiano found important about Barron that led the Buccaneers to select him: he was a dominant player in every tape he put on. More interestingly, he mentioned the fact that Barron was a two-time captain and won two national championships. The fact that he wants winners - something he got with Doug Martin too- and captains isn't necessarily different from previous seasons, but the fact that Schiano mentioned that along with quality of play as the major factors going into the decision to draft Barron says something about the kind of character he wants on his football team. Whether or not gathering players who won at the college level works remains to be seen, though. You need a lot more than a history of winning to win at the NFL level, after all.
Greg Cosell's take may be a little more interesting and gives us a better view of Mark Barron as a player. He regularly appears on podcasts with Yahoo! writer Doug Farrar, and in their most recent podcast they discussed the NFC South. You can find it here, but I've transcribed the relevant parts on Mark Barron as well (emphasis mine).
"I think he does everything, the only thing that I would say he probably doesn't do is play single-high safety and roam sideline to sideline. But I was truly surprised watching Alabama's tape, and I watched an awful lot of games because they had so many players. I thought he played man-to-man exceptionally well on tight ends. Again, he's not facing the level of tight end that he'll face in the NFL, but the point is he was asked to do that and he did it. So I think he's a complete safety."
"I know I read, after I watched him, I read a lot of people say 'Well he can't play in coverage'. I would disagree with that. I think he can absolutely play in coverage except for perhaps single-high. I wouldn't say he's Ed Reed in terms of roaming the deep areas of the field, but not many are and Reed's a Hall of Famer. But I think Mark Barron can essentially do everything else and do it at a pretty high level."
"I thought he was one of the six-seven best players in the draft, maybe higher. I don't quite do a draft board like that, but if I had to think it through I would probably say he's in my top six or seven. So when he was drafted seven, and then a lot of people started saying 'Well he's not who they really wanted.' - none of us know that, that they really wanted Morris Claiborne and, hey, whatever. Mark Barron was the Bucs' draft choice at number seven and I think Mark Barron is an immediate starter and has All-Pro potential sooner than later."
"The point is I think this guy is a football junkie. I think he'll be at the facility, I think he'll be work. Not to get back to Kellen Winslow, but Kellen Winslow wasn't traded because he can't play. Kellen Winslow was traded because Greg Schiano is there now, trying to build a new program with committed players and Kellen Winslow decided he'd rather work out on his own. That didn't fly. You know, Mark Barron - you won't have that problem with Mark Barron."
There are a lot more thoughts on the other Bucs' draft picks and Josh Freeman in that podcast, so I'd definitely listen to the whole thing - or at least the segment on the Bucs (from about 33:00).