Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Pick: Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
With all of the attention being paid to the interior line, outside linebacker and cornerback, a lot of people are forgetting the Cowboys could still benefit greatly from securing an elite safety. Gerald Sensabaugh is here to stay, but Abram Elam wasn’t great in 2011. Is the position worth a first-round pick? It depends on what the team plans to do in free agency.
Alabama’s Mark Barron is the consensus top safety in this year’s draft class. He’s viewed as a pure strong safety, and while that description is accurate, I think he’s far more versatile than people think. Here is what I observed on film. . .
At 6’2”, 210 pounds, Mark Barron has ideal size for a strong safety. He carries that weight pretty well, possessing adequate (not great) speed but superior change of direction ability. Check out the 24 second mark below, where Barron initially gets beat. The clip might look meaningless, but you can see just how quickly Barron is capable of flipping his hips to get into position. Abram Elam ain’t doing that.
Most scouts claim Barron is an “in the box” safety, and this is partially true. He does excel in the box, succeeding when he can fly up in run support or play short zones such as in Cover 3. He reads the quarterback’s eyes well and has the quickness to jump underneath receivers.
Barron’s deep coverage is underrated, though. He will not be a full-time “centerfield” safety in the NFL, but he can play there from time to time. Check out the 1:58 and 2:44 marks below. You can see Barron is capable of playing the deep middle, particularly when he locates the ball. He is going to struggle in man coverage or other times when he has to turn and locate the football late.
Barron’s bread and butter is tackling, however. He diagnoses plays very quickly and flies up in run support (as at the 44 second mark). He is an exciting to player to watch and one who could add some much-needed nastiness to the Dallas defense. On the very next play, Barron displays good sideline-to-sideline ability.
Barron reminds me of a young Brian Dawkins in that he isn’t afraid to lay a lick on ball-carriers but also isn’t a glorified linebacker. Barron is far superior to Dawkins in coverage, though. His most valuable trait is his versatility, as he played free safety, strong safety, slot cornerback and even linebacker at Alabama. With so many responsibilities, it is impressive that Barron seems to play with proper leverage and remember his responsibilities. On a defense that was so loaded with talent that everyone probably appears better than they were, Barron still stands out to me.
Barron is probably going to be a first-round selection, but it will likely come in the later portion of the round. He could even slip into the second round due to concerns about his speed and change of direction (which I don’t share with others). So what is Dallas to do? Trading down is an option, and I would have no issue with the team selecting him in the early-20s (or later) and securing pretty significant compensation for the move. Easier said than done, of course.
Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Picks