Mark Barron is the consensus No. 1 safety in the 2012 NFL draft, it really isn't even that close. Some would argue this doesn't matter all too much considering that the safety class is extremely weak this season.
That is only true if you take the former Alabama star out of the equation.
He has everything teams look for in regards to a top-tier strong safety at the next level. Barron isn't just stout in the box against the run, he will surprise you a great deal in regards to coverage ability on the outside.
This is something that some scouts don't fully understand. Most elite NFL safeties struggle going up against wide receivers on the outside—that really isn't their job description. The same will ring true with Barron. However, he will be pretty solid covering tight ends and running backs between the hashes.
With that said, Barron is going to make his mark in the NFL as a run-stuffing safety hitting the box from the strong side.
This article is going to focus on five reasons why the talented safety is going to be a successful NFL player.
Frame: 6'1" and 213 pounds
Mark Barron has the prototypical size for a starting safety in the National Football League. He is a couple inches taller than Ed Reed, who has dominated the AFC over the course of the last decade with the Baltimore Ravens.
That is saying something.
More than that, Barron possesses the build to play both strong and free safety at the next level. While the Alabama product didn't lift at the combine, he does possess strong upper body strength. This is going to help him going up against bigger tight ends in the NFL.
For pure comparison's sake, Barron matches up well with one of the up-and-coming safeties in the league, Dashon Goldson. They pretty much have identical builds.
This is an important aspect that scouts take a look at in the lead-up to the draft. However, there are much more important factors that I will take a look at for the remainder of this article.
I noticed watching tape of Barron at Alabama that he wasn't afraid to get in the face of opposing offensive players. The talented safety stood strong against bigger tight ends and laid the wood a large majority of the time.
This is an important attribute heading into the NFL. The best defenses in the league have someone in the back end that causes tight ends and wide receivers to hesitate going up the middle.
I mentioned Ed Reed and Dashon Goldson in the previous slide, and the same rings true here.
Make the opponent short-arm the catch and think twice about going up the middle, and you are going to create turnovers and dropped passes.
You can expect Barron to do this right out of the gate.
It is also important that a defense has a safety that is able to roam free in the middle of the football field and be able to make plays in a freelance type of way.
This is what Barron did throughout his career at Alabama, whether or not it was in the box or on the outside.
Certain teams are going to be looking at this attribute in-depth during draft day and it may put Barron over the top in regards to be selected in the first half of the initial round.
While experts have concluded that Barron struggles in coverage, I am not seeing it as much. Of course he does tend to struggle going up against receivers on the outside. The same can be said for a vast majority of the best safeties in the National Football League.
Barron is incredibly solid in man coverage when going up against running backs or tight ends between the hashes. It is when he hits the outside and has to cover deep that the Alabama product has some issues.
Scouts.com had the following to say about Barron following the combine: "Has some limitations versus quicker/faster WRs because of some stiffness in hips. Struggles to change directions quickly. However, plays faster than timed speed. Has good short-area closing burst (especially when coming forward."
Not too bad, if you ask me.
This is where Barron is going to hold his own and make his name at the next level. He is one of the better run-support safeties that I have seen enter the draft in quite some time.
I am talking about a prospect that can continually dominate in the box against the run. He possesses strong lower body strength and a great technique at the point of contact.
Just take a look at the attached photo. Look at how he took down the Virginia Tech running back here. Barron used his frame and strength to get low on the tackle and bring the back down in short order. He consistently did this in video that I have watched over the course of the last couple months.