04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Buccaneers' picks: Round 1/7 - Mark Barron, S, 6-2, 213, Alabama...Bucs traded down two spots with the Jaguars and picked up a fourth-rounder to select Barron, a football junkie who hits like an anvil and has decent coverage ability. - The Sports Xchange
Barron was the on-field quarterback for Alabama's complex and devastating defense. After the snap, he became an enforcer whose physical play was a reason Alabama's defense was No. 1 in the nation. He was especially responsible for preventing the big play, which he did well enough to be named first team All-American in 2011.
However, as a college strong safety trying to find a place in the pass-happy NFL, Barron might have benefitted by showing in workouts that he has the speed and agility to make it at the next level. But after the National Championship game, Barron had surgery to repair a double sports hernia, so he was unable to perform at the Scouting Combine or Alabama's Pro Day and hopes to hold a pre-draft workout.
He appears to have good, but not great, speed and was rarely put in a position where he had to cover a slot receiver man to man. Barron is a strong player, but doesn't seem to be a candidate for getting many letters from the NFL Commissioner for over-the-top hits. He is a high-percentage, formful tackler whose hits might be better for text books than the ESPN Top Ten list.
"I like making plays, period," said Barron. "I would say the interception
(is his favorite) because that's more of a game-changer. That affects the game more. I like hitting and making interceptions."
Barron's play does reflect a combination of great film work and instinctive reactions, which gets him in the middle of action on most plays and rarely allows ballcarriers to get very far beyond the line of scrimmage.
"We played in a very difficult defense," Barron said of the Crimson Tide. "We did a lot of different schemes. As far as communicating, I had a lot to do with that on the back end. I feel like sometimes I brought some energy with the hits that I made and things of that nature. So, I did a lot of different things."
Man Coverage: Not often asked to drop down and cover the slot in this scheme. Is a bit stiff in the hips and has only average change of direction. Does show a late burst to close on the football.
Zone Coverage: Good instincts and overall athleticism for zone coverage. A bit high in his backpedal as he's a high cut athlete, but can plant and drive downhill on the football. Reads the quarterback's eyes and has good feet, balance and straight-line speed, aiding him in being in consistently good position when in pass coverage.
Ball Skills: 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.
Run Support: Reads run quickly and aggressively attacks, taking out blockers when he has help behind him. Unafraid of playing near the line of scrimmage, though he shows only average strength and technique to disengage. Good agility and speed to avoid blockers, showing an ability to make a lot of plays at or near the line of scrimmage. Prone to overrunning the play, however, and leaving potential cutback lanes for backs to exploit.
Tackling: Isn't as reliable an open-field tackler as you'd think, considering his reputation. Flies upfield in run support and can fail to break down properly. Doesn't possess the elite agility to dance with runners in the open field and always make the secure stop. Physical hitter who teases with textbook hit-lift-drive technique, but will also duck his head occasion to make the big hit and miss entirely or fail to wrap up securely and have the ball-carrier spin through his attempted tackle. Among his better traits, however, is his ability to take good angles when in pursuit. Understands his role as the last line of defense and rarely allows ball-carriers to get past him when he is in this position.
Intangibles: Arrested in March 2011 on charges of hindering prosecution, a misdemeanor charge, as police believed he was not telling full truth about one-car accident in his hometown of Mobile. Missed the Capital One Bowl after suffering a torn right pectoral muscle against Auburn. The injury played a major factor in Barron electing to return to Alabama for his senior season.