SI.com Writers: Safety Mark Barron To The Cowboys

Mark Barron records one of 12 interceptions he made for Alabama.

Over the last two days, SI.com's big NFL guns both released mock drafts. Peter King released his first mock draft of the year on Tuesday and his colleague Don Banks followed that up yesterday with his mock draft v. 6.0 to give us an SI.com mock draft double whopper.

Both of them have the Cowboys picking Alabama safety Mark Barron with their first pick. Here's what Peter King wrote about the pick:

I wouldn't be surprised to see Dallas trade up to make sure it gets Barron, perhaps with Kansas City at 11. The Cowboys have no identity in the secondary. No big-time players either. Barron would immediately boost a unit that's been beaten down—and provide the kind of tackler at safety that the Boys haven't had since Darren Woodson.

And here's why Don Banks thinks Barron is the right pick for the Cowboys:

I think the Cowboys have been fairly well locked in on the Crimson Tide safety for weeks now. I don't think they'll have to sweat someone coming up to get him at No. 13, but it's at least a possibility, given that Barron makes sense for both the No. 15 Eagles and No. 16 Jets.

Both arguments make sense, and name-dropping Darren Woodson is always a plus, so where's the catch? After the break, we look at who was left on both writers' board to figure out if there is a catch.

The surprise in Don Banks' Mock Draft v. 6.0 is that CB Stephon Gilmore cracks the top ten, going at #9 to the Panthers. Perhaps less surprising, but potentially shocking to some Cowboys fans, is who is left on the board when the Cowboys pick:

  • #15 DE Quinton Coples to the Eagles
  • #17 OG David DeCastro to the Bengals
  • #21 CB Dre Kirkpatrick to the Bengals
  • #24 DT Dontari Poe to the Steelers

In Peter King's first mock of the year, Gilmore goes even higher. King has him at #7 to the Jaguars. Here are some of the players Kings has the Cowboys passing on:

  • #15 DE Quinton Coples to the Eagles
  • #16 DT Dontari Poe to the Jets
  • #21 CB Dre Kirkpatrick to the Bengals

In both mocks, Fletcher Cox is gone in the top ten, so he's out of this discussion. Over recent weeks, Mark Barron has grown on me as a potential Cowboys draft pick to the point where I would be pleased if the Alabama team captain and the player who 'quarterbacked' one of the best college defenses of recent years ended up wearing a star.

Perhaps it's time to re-evaluate our collective take on Mark Barron, the player whom NFL.com's Charley Casserly calls 'the Draft's hottest prospect'

Back in my executive days with the Washington Redskins, when there was a tie between two players on our draft board, I always asked two questions:

1) Who will make the most Pro Bowls?
2) Who do you want to take to the Meadowlands to play the Giants?

These two questions always helped break a tie.

I've studied five games of Barron in action, and he's the player who would receive the most positive answers from those two questions. Barron is 6-foot-1, 213 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.5's. He is very smart; Nick Saban runs a complex defense at Alabama and Barron had no problem understanding it. He should be able to be the defensive signal caller for his NFL team. He is very athletic and has the ability to play man coverage versus tight ends, which is not common in a safety. He is also exceptional when playing zone defense. Barron has excellent instincts to break on the ball and the speed to cover a lot of ground. As a physical player and fine tackler, he often played linebacker in Alabama's nickel defense. When I evaluate Barron as a safety, I do not see anything he can't do. To me, he's a very safe pick.

Barron is one of the late risers in this year's draft, and his hernia injury undoubtedly is a key reason for that. The question is though, should the Cowboys pick him over Quinton Coples, Dontari Poe, Dre Kirkpatrick, and perhaps even David DeCastro?

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