Breaking Down Why Mark Barron Is the NFL's Top Defensive Rookie So Far

Nick Kostora@@nickkostoraContributor IIISeptember 20, 2012

September 9, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Mark Barron (24) during the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Mark Barron's tremendous start to his NFL career stands out among even the best of his fellow defensive rookies.

While players like Chandler Jones of the New England Patriots and Mychal Kendricks of the Philadelphia Eagles have exceeded expectations thus far, no one has ignited his respective defense like Barron for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

His unique blend of size, speed and athleticism make him one of the most imposing safety prospects to come out of the draft in recent years, and Barron is already living up to the hype in every way.

Let's break down the attributes that make him such a unique and talented rookie.


Size and Strength

At 6'2", 213 pounds, Barron has the type of size and strength that gives him the rare physical advantage against many wide receivers. He is not content to simply drop into coverage and play the ball, instead playing a physical brand of football and delivering devastating hits to opponents.

This ability was on full display in Week 1, as Barron laid out Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith.

Barron is also not afraid to get a full head of steam and make plays in the backfield. He is not overly aggressive, but when the opportunity arises, he is quick to adjust and play the run well. Plus, Barron is a sure tackler and is always in good position because of exemplary footwork.



For his size, Barron has almost freakish athleticism. Perhaps not as great as fellow draftees, such as Morris Claiborne or Janoris Jenkins, but Barron is adept at both intercepting passes and making plays on the ball at all times.

In just two NFL games, he has an impressive four pass deflections from the safety position, and his ball-hawking nature has already been on full display.

The speed of the NFL game has not overwhelmed Barron because he was playing at a faster level than everyone else in college.

Look here as ESPN's Todd McShay breaks down Barron's ability in run support.


Who Else Has Been as Good?

Have any other defensive rookies had quite the impact that Barron has already?

Yes, the aforementioned Kendricks and Jones have been good, but Barron has already recorded 13 tackles and four pass deflections as a strong safety.

He inserts himself into every play and makes his presence felt at all times. Barron is already a key component in a Bucs defense that sorely needs his support.

Ronde Barber is older than most of our grandfathers, Aqib Talib is in constant legal trouble, and Eric Wright is, well, Eric Wright.

Barron is the type of skilled player that can begin the process of fixing Tampa Bay's pass defense, and through just two NFL games, he is the best defensive rookie the game has to offer.