Buccaneers drafted Mark Barron to stop Jimmy Graham

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

We've always suspected that Jimmy Graham's presence had some effect on the Bucs' decision making, but now it's confirmed.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Mark Barron specifically to stop Jimmy Graham, according to Butch Davis. The former Schiano assistant testified at Jimmy Graham's franchise-tag grievance hearing and delivered remarks to that effect, according to Pro Football Talk.

Butch Davis was some kind assistant to Greg Schiano at the time, though no one ever really figured out what it is he actually did for the team. Other than collect a paycheck from both the Buccaneers and his former employers at the University of North Carolina, that is.

When the Bucs picked Barron they did so after trading down two spots and passing up the opportunity to draft Morris Claiborne, which seems like a good decision now. They also passed up drafting Luke Kuechly, who has turned into an outstanding player for the Carolina Panthers but wouldn't really have filled a need for the Bucs at the time.

Instead, they took a long-armed safety out of Alabama who had rarely been projected to go in the top 10. Still, Barron's been a solid performer in his career so far and has the makings of a future Pro Bowler, so it's a little harsh to call this a bad selection.

While Pro Football Talk claims drafting Barron to stop Graham didn't exactly work because the Saints are 4-0 in games against Mark Barron, that's not completely accurate. Mark Baron and Jimmy Graham only faced each other twice, with Barron missing last year's week 17 contest, while Graham missed the game in Tampa the year before.

Graham was certainly productive in those two games, catching an agonizing total of 15 passes for 248 yards and the 2013 matchup between Barron and Goldson specifically was very educational. In that game, the Bucs had Goldson covering Graham in man coverage for most of the first half as the tight end racked up 156 yards on eight catches. In the second half, the Bucs largely covered him with Mark Barron. Once they made that switch, Drew Brees completed just two of five passes in Graham's direction for 23 yards and a pick-six.

Of course, it's slightly odd that you'd draft a player specifically to stop Jimmy Graham, and then wouldn't use him like that once you started actually game-planning.

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