2012 NFL Draft: Why the Eagles' First Pick Must Be Barron

Ben LariveeContributor IIIApril 26, 2012

NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  C.J. Spiller from the Clemson Tigers holds up a Buffalo Bills jersey as he poses with friends and family after he was selected number 9 overall by the Bills during the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

"With the 15th pick in the NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select..."

If the next words out of the commissioner's mouth are anything but, "Mark Barron, safety, University of Alabama," then it will be another pick Eagles fans likely will regret.

While mock drafts all around this site, as well as every other site, seemed to have settled on the idea that the first round pick of the Eagles should be a defensive tackle—Dortari Poe, Michael Brockers, and Fletcher Cox have all been the favorite at some point in time—Barron is still the right pick. 

Barron has a chance to be then best safety to come out of the draft since Troy Polomolu. Eagles fans have long fretted about not having any dynamic player in the secondary since the departure of Brian Dawkins, and have cursed the front office for passing on Earl Thomas in 2010.  Barron might be as good as Thomas is right now.

But the argument for selecting Barron over one of the blue chip tackles cannot be that his ceiling is higher.  After all, a similar argument could be made about Fletcher Cox and the unlimited potential someone else might see in him.

The basis on my stance here is two-fold—it's about value and need.  

The Eagles have three picks in the first two rounds, and it seems very likely they will use them on a safety, defensive tackle, and an outside linebacker, in some order.

Now, the second best safety in this draft, Harrison Smith, has plenty of holes in his game, and is clearly no where near Barron in terms of talent.  Still, he might be gone when the Eagles pick at 46.

Defensive tackle on the other hand, is the deepest position in this year's draft.  The distance between the presumptive "best" and fifth best, Devon Still, is a good deal smaller than the gap between Barron and Smith.  That said, as, many as four DTs could come off the board Thursday night, but Still's availability in the second round seems safe.

If the Eagles use their first two picks on a safety and a defensive tackle, it will probably go like Barron and Still, or Cox and Smith.  Which of those sounds better? I think the first one does, and I don't think it's very close.  

That's what drafting value means. If you can get someone similar later in the draft, you wait on it. You take the special player now.

The other reason Barron should be the first pick is even simpler.  They need a safety more than they need a defensive tackle.

Best case, Cox or Brockers would file into the Eagles' increasingly crowded DT rotation and contribute right away.  With Cullen Jenkins, who recently restructured his deal to stay in Philly, Mike Patterson, Derek Landri, and Antonio Dixon already on board, a great rookie would add to a very good defensive line.

That doesn't sound like the kind of impact I want from a first round pick on a team trying to win the Super Bowl.

Barron, on the other hand, could play every snap on defense. With Nate Allen on the other side, Barron would have a substantial impact from day one in a group of safeties trying to improve from an abysmal 2011.

That's first round impact.  

That's what Mark Barron will give the Eagles.