Not going to lie, I’ve overdosed on Alabama game footage over the last few days. Nick Saban’s haircut now fuels my night terrors.
But Mark Barron made it worth it. When you watch him, the comparison that immediately comes to mind is the late Sean Taylor. I know that will be construed as hyperbole, but the Alabama free safety does everything you want as an “outfielder” for the defence. Barron plays the run and defends intermediate passes with overwhelming quickness and strength.
He was slow to recover from double hernia surgery in January, but he participated in Alabama’s second Pro Day in late March. Barron’s pro day results were a mixed bag after he ran a 4.5 on his first 40-yard dash, and a poor 4.73 on his second. The best safety available this year, Barron could be off the board relatively early, with Dallas and Philadelphia interested.
Weight: 223 Pounds
Born: October 27, 1989
Arm length: 33 5/8′ inches
Hands: 9 1/2′ inches
Barron did not participate at the Combine due to his recovery from surgery in January
2011: 13 GP 68 Tackles 7 Pass Break Ups 2 INT
2010: 12 GP 75 Tackles 6 Pass Break Ups 3 INT
2009: 14 GP 74 Tackles 11 Pass Break Ups 7 INT
2008: 12 GP 16 Tackles
What the experts say
Barron Has the makings of a heck of a special teams player who can also attack downhill vs. the run game, play inside the box and drive on the football in front of him in the pass game. He isn’t going to be a major threat turning and tracking the football, but his improved instincts makes me think he can start in the league early on.
Barron has excellent instincts. He stays around the ball and has the propensity to make clutch plays. Entering the NFL, Barron has a lot of experience in a complex defense and should be able to make a quick transition to the next level.
Classic ball hawk. Reads the quarterback’s eyes and does a nice job of breaking on the throw. Good acceleration and straight-line speed. Very good ball skills for the position. Generally times his leaps well and has good hand-eye coordination to make the difficult grab. Good vision and natural running skills with the football.
Barron’s stock is on the rise as, amongst other things, head coach Nick Saban has given him rave reviews. He’s being talked about as someone with a passion for football and a prospect who’s skills have been underrated. We hear if Dontari Poe is gone by the 14th pick of the draft, and he’s likely to be, the Dallas Cowboys are likely to turn to Barron.
Mark Barron, I haven’t heard any team I’ve talked to say they’re concerned about the hernia surgery. But he’s the best safety in this class, and I’d be shocked if he fell out of the first round somewhere in the middle to later first-round range.
No one questions Barron’s ability to be an excellent run supporting safety and the leader of the secondary. He does a good job of playing the ball in front of him, but teams are concerned with how he will handle matchups with slot receivers and fast tight ends. Barron will likely be drafted by a team looking for a starting strong safety this season. He shares many qualities with former Purdue safety Bernard Pollard, a second-round pick in 2006 who has been a productive starter for three teams.
Mark Barron will be a very good pro safety. He is smart and versatile, and can play deep in the middle or in the box. There is no problem with his ability to play in space. He could also play as a “big” nickel in sub packages. He is fast enough (unofficial 4.55 in the 40-yard dash) and has the tools to be a hybrid-type playmaker. He should go in the middle of the first round.
Barron is quick to diagnose in run support. Was used a lot in the box and looks to be comfortable playing near the line. He’s NFL-ready in the strength department and won’t get knocked around by bigger ball carriers. Doesn’t look to have the on-field speed to chase down fast runners from behind.
Not everyone is in love with Barron like I am. As mentioned by the experts, there are concerns about his north/south speed and his man-to-man coverage skills. His production at ‘Bama was consistent, and he gave Dre Kirkpatrick and others the opportunity to play aggressive press coverage.
If Barron were to fall to the latter half of the first round he has Patriots steal written all over him.