Mark Barron Was Buccaneers' Top Target, or so They Say

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterApril 27, 2012

Alabama safety Mark Barron was Tampa Bay's first selection in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Alabama safety Mark Barron was Tampa Bay's first selection in the 2012 NFL Draft.Al Bello/Getty Images

Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano want you to think they had everyone fooled.

The Bucs general manager and new head coach spent the last few weeks dropping hints and disseminating speculation that the Buccaneers were interested in Trent Richardson and Morris Claiborne. It was as close to common knowledge as anything could be that Tampa Bay coveted the Alabama running back or the LSU corner.

I still think that might be the case, even though the Bucs selected Alabama safety Mark Barron with pick No. 7, and Dominik said that Barron was who the team had its sights set on the whole time.

"The first film I watched, I ran to (general manager Mark Dominik). We watched it together, and I looked at him and said, 'Wow!' " Schiano said. "So then you go back. That's what you do leading up to the draft. You try to find problems and what isn't right. We just felt this guy is a fit for the Bucs.

"He's a leader, a physical presence, a football guy, loves it. He's our kind of guy."

Understanding that it’s part of the NFL draft game to get as much erroneous information out to the public—and to opposing general managers—to disguise a team’s true intentions, Barron as Tampa Bay’s true intended target doesn’t jive.

The night started off with Cleveland moving up one spot to No. 3 and paying handsomely to do so. The Browns swapped first-round picks with Minnesota and added three more late-round picks to the offer.

Cleveland moved up to take Richardson, but then Minnesota selected offensive tackle Matt Kalil, as everyone thought they would. Why would Cleveland pay an outrageous price to move up one spot when the team that owned that pick wasn’t going to take Richardson anyway?

Because there were other bidders for pick No. 3.

We’ll never get an honest answer about this, but it wouldn’t be surprising to hear that it was Tampa Bay that was trying to move up to draft Richardson. That, in turn, started a bidding war that Cleveland won.

Not convinced that Tampa Bay wanted Richardson?

Look no further than late in the first round Thursday when the Buccaneers traded up from the second round to draft running back Doug Martin from Boise State.

That move alone shows that the Bucs wanted a running back and in fact knew that they needed a running back. It would seem as if Dominik felt the New York Giants were going to grab Martin, so he swapped out a few picks and climbed up to pick No. 31 for the Boise State Bronco.

Barron is a great safety and fills a huge need for Tampa Bay. It may have been a bit early at No. 7 to draft a safety, but Barrron has some upside to work with.

Martin is a solid running back who will instantly play special teams and participate on third-down situations for the Bucs. He’ll complement LeGarrette Blount well in the running game.

I’m just not sold that both picks weren’t reactionary because Tampa Bay missed out on Richardson.