It took a while for me to think, ponder, and analyze what the Chargers draft meant to the team's future, failures, and success this upcoming season. The one player out of all the Chargers' 2012 draftees that stood out to me was the strong safety from LSU, Brandon Taylor.
To be honest with you, Brandon Taylor was never on my radar as a potential person of interest from the Chargers. Nor did I see any indication that the Chargers would even be interested in him leading up to the draft judging by all the media prediction on the Chargers online, in magazines, or by paper.
I do know the Chargers were interested in Mark Barron but that would require the Chargers trading towards the top 10 picks to have a chance at him. The Chargers were interested in Harrison Smith but they also knew they'd have to trade up to get him also, more than likely in the late first round or draft down to pick Smith up. The Chargers did no such thing. They stayed. They got two solid players with the first two picks. They anticipated both Barron and Smith were going to be gone and they had a contingency plan, Brandon Taylor. I guess they must have prepared for this weeks in advance to search for their possible starting strong safety in the projected third round.
As I look more into what Brandon Taylor can bring to the Chargers, I came away very impressed. Here are the three reasons why I believe Taylor will be a more productive player than Mark Barron or Harrison Smith.
Say what you want but this is a true fact. The QB's that Brandon Taylor will face in the AFC West for six games is a lot more weaker than the QB's Mark Barron or Harrison Smith will face in their perspective divisions.
Drafted by the Buccaneers with the seventh pick in the first round, Mark Barron will have a tough task of playing pass coverage against top notch QB's. In the NFC South, Barron will play against Falcons' QB Matt Ryan, Panthers' QB Cam Newton, and Saints' QB Drew Brees.
Mark Barron may not know Drew Brees well or Matt Ryan that well but he is very familiar with Cam Newton, when he was a QB for the Auburn Tigers. Against the Crimson Tide of Alabama, Newton passed for over 216 yards, completing 13 passes of 20 attempts, for three TD's. Newton also added a TD on the ground rushing for 39 yards. Now if Newton can do those things as a passer against a elite college defense in which Barron was a part of, and Newton torched NFL defenses last season, I don't see Barron playing that great against three QB's he's going to have to face twice in the season each.
The same can be said about Harrison Smith. I think he's an exceptional talent as is Mark Barron. The problem that Barron faces, in which I mentioned above, will be the same issue Smith will face, a division with really good QB's. Playing for the Vikings in the NFC North, Smith will play against Bears' QB Jay Cutler, Lions' QB Matthew Stafford, and Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers.
That's a pretty tall order for these two strong safeties and who they'll face at QB twice a year within the division. How does Brandon Taylor fair against his division passers?
In the AFC West, Brandon Taylor will play pass coverage against Broncos' QB Peyton Manning, Chiefs' QB Matt Cassel, and Raiders QB Carson Palmer. I don't know about you but I love Taylor's chances of playing against a fragile Manning, a very average Cassel, and a Palmer that hasn't been good since he got a near career-ending injury.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is ranked 20th in the league in total yards. Against the pass, the Bucs are ranked 21st in that category. What Mark Barron is being asked to do is something very difficult, he's being asked to be relied on a lot for the defense to be where they want to be. The defenses' success and jump in total defense will rest a lot on Barron's effort to make a mark on his team.
As for the Minnesota Vikings defense is ranked 21st in the league in total yards. Against the pass, the Vikings were ranked 26th in that category. Like Mark Barron for the Bucs, Harrison Smith is pretty much being asked the same, to be a game-changer for a defense that is very lack luster in making plays last season.
Brandon Taylor is coming to a defense that ranked 16th in the league. He won't need to be the main person to be relied on to make plays as he won't need to take chances on plays unlike Mark Barron and Harrison Smith. Taylor will be playing on a defense in which he can progress into a star player, unlike Barron and Smith who have to be making star player like plays as top round draft choices.
Pressure to perform plays a big role in a players maturity into becoming a star player. Such slow boomers into star players include the Chargers free safety, Eric Weddle, who was a second round choice.
The No. 1 reason for why Brandon Taylor will outplay both Mark Barron and Harrison Smith is simple, Taylor will be able to take more chances on making plays than Barron and Smith due to having the support of good players around him in the secondary.
Mark Barron will be playing with Tanard Jackson at FS. Jackson has been a average safety during his career. Having a great safety combination is important for the back-end of the defense. Barron is being asked to be a playmaker on defense. Will Barron be able to take more chances on making plays or will he play it safe due to not having the support he needs to take chances? I believe Barron will take many chances to make plays. He may have a great season. However, if those chances don't produce, the Bucs back-end will be open all day for those QB's in the NFC South to dominate.
As for Harrison Smith, I don't believe the Vikings even know who's the clear starter at safety. As far as I know, Smith is going to be used as a free safety which is very interesting. Regardless of where Smith plays, the Vikings don't have another safety to compensate for the chances Smith is going to have to take in order to make plays with his athletic ability.
Now comes the argument I make for Brandon Taylor and it's easy as hell. Taylor will be playing strong safety alongside Pro Bowl free safety, Eric Weddle. Playing along side Weddle will allow Taylor to take more chances as Weddle does a phenomenal job of coverage in a huge amount of space on the deep end. Taylor will be able to take more chances on plays well knowing that Weddle has his back.
I'm just keep the argument very simple here but if you add cornerbacks to the mix, I like the Chargers CB's versus the Vikings and the Bucs perimeter coverage. That's just my opinion.
I love Brandon Taylor's chances of putting out a better year than Mark Barron and Harrison Smith for the reasons I've already mentioned. However, unlike Barron and Smith who will be given their starting job, as a third round choice, Taylor is going to have to fight to be a starter. Taylor is very talented and a staunch run support strong safety. Taylor won't be asked to cover a large area of the field unlike his Pro Bowl counterpart, Eric Weddle. Such help in terms of scheme will help Taylor have a great season.
I hope nothing but the best for the Bucs and the Vikings as I would've wanted the Chargers to have either player in the draft. I knew nothing of Brandon Taylor. The media didn't give any indication of third round type players and their ability to contribute. With a little research, I'm glad I saw exactly what AJ Smith saw in this player and I'm glad we got him before other teams did. With top notch additions in the first two rounds, I can't help but imagine that Melvin Ingram and the rest of the young Chargers defensive players will play a huge role in the development of a team player like Taylor was to the LSU defense. The type of development that Eric Weddle went through to become who he is today.