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Safety Mark Barron will immediately help one of the NFL's worst defensive units in 2011.
Rookie Safety Mark Barron will immediately help one of the NFL's worst defensive units.
It's not too often that a team takes a safety with the seventh overall pick. Leave it to the Bucs to break from tradition, if NFL draft tradition actually exists.
Barron brings leadership and a hard-hitting resume to a defense that ranked 21st against the pass and dead last against the run in 2011. He'll share a defensive backfield with veteran Ronde Barber, who made the switch from CB to S this offseason.
Critics were left scratching their heads when the Bucs traded down in the first round from fifth to seventh, even though LSU CB Morris Claiborne was still on the board. However, it was a draft day strategy that played out perfectly for the Bucs front office.
For weeks leading up to the draft, RB Trent Richardson and Claiborne were two of the only names associated with Tampa Bay, which is apparently just what GM Mark Dominik wanted.
"Obviously, being a two-time captain at the University of Alabama, a two-time National Champion, [and] a very productive football player at a very important position in the National Football League. Safety has become an extremely important position. It’s a position we value and other teams value. We felt that we got an extremely productive guy who has a lot of leadership experience." Dominik said, via buccaneers.com.
Barron believes his college experience groomed him perfectly for the NFL level.
"We played in a very difficult defense," he said at the combine (h/t Los Angeles Times). "We did a lot of different schemes. My role was, as far as communicating, I had a lot to do with that on the back end. And I felt like sometimes, I brought some energy to it with the hits I make and things of that nature. I did a lot of different things."
Bob Sanders and Troy Polamalu are excellent examples of how a safety can totally change a defense. If Barron lives up to the hype, NFC South offenses will not look forward to seeing the red and pewter's No. 24 on Sundays. Bucs fans also know that subpar play at safety could make for a very long season.