Off the bench and into the Cowboys lineup?
If there is a trending player for the Dallas Cowboys in mock drafts recently, then it would have to be Alabama safety Mark Barron. Last week, KD posted about Mel Kiper's mock draft where he had the Cowboys going with Barron. Since then, and I'm not suggesting it's a result of Kiper's mock, I've been noticing more and more places linking the Cowboys and the Alabama safety. Some of these come from experts in the field, others from communities of fans doing their best to predict what will happen.
Barron in general is rising up draft boards, one of the curious effects of the month-long layoff between the combine and the draft. Some players rise, some players fall, sometimes for no discernible reason. Barron is one of those players that is rising. Dallas could obviously use safety help, the addition of Brodney Pool was for a one-year deal, so Dallas still needs a long-term answer.
One guy who I always respect is Bob Sturm. He writes about Barron, not really in mock draft form, but in a series reviewing potential targets for the Cowboys. It's a nice review, so I recommend you check out the whole thing. But hopefully Sturm won't mind if I grab a chunk out of it for here.
Make the jump...
The Case For Taking Mark Barron at #14: The case is simple - you immediately become a better team with Mark Barron on your squad. The number of big plays this defense could generate would multiply. Safety has been ignored long enough and if he is the best player on your board and instantly gives you All-Pro upside at a position where takeaways are generated, the Cowboys should not be reluctant to pull the trigger. There will always be a concern about the unknown, but the known with him is that he is both explosive, intelligent, and a potential leader of men. His game tape shows that he alters games, mostly for the better. I think Barron is a guy you can feel good about, despite that cringe when you hear "box safety".
The Case Against Taking Mark Barron at 14: The case against Barron is simply that the club has a real need to improve the pass rush and therefore talk themselves into fixing the defensive line and front 7. Also, it is not always a wonderful idea to take a safety in the top half of the 1st Round. For every Sean Taylor and Eric Berry, there are also players like Michael Huff and Donte Whitner who have been good, but not great. I don't think I am crazy about Barron and Sensabaugh together in center field as they may both be better as strongs, but I cannot worry about that when selecting in the 1st Round. You take the talent. And finally, the case against him might be if you study his hips and feel like as he gets near 30 years old, he won't be able to drop them like he once was. Tight hips are the death of defensive backs, and there is conjecture about whether this will ever be an issue with him.
Solid analysis from Sturm, as always. Yes, it makes me nervous when I hear "more of an in the box safety" and this is not the direction I would go at #14, but there is more and more talk about the Cowboys looking in this direction. Like this note from Tony Pauline:
We hear if Dontari Poe is gone by the 14th pick of the draft, and he’s likely to be, the Dallas Cowboys are likely to turn to Barron.
Both Brian Baldinger and Chad Reuter for the NFL Network have the Cowboys picking Barron.
Other mocks with Barron and the Cowboys include:
Mark Barron, SS, Alabama: Considering the presence of pass rusher extraordinaire DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys have been terribly inept in coverage over the past several years. The team made some strides a year ago in their first season under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan but this secondary lacks a headliner. Expensive free agent cornerback Brandon Carr will certainly help, but so too would the heady and physical Barron.
Barron is the top safety in the draft, and the only one worthy of a first-round pick. He started 38 games over the past three seasons in Tuscaloosa and was named first-team All-America in 2010 and a unanimous selection in 2011. Barron is a ball-hawking safety, who can play the back end or drop down into the box and aggressively play the run. He's not Ed Reed, but he's got superb instincts, finds the ball in the air and reacts quickly. What the Cowboys need is a guy in the secondary who is going to make teams pay for bad balls, and Barron does exactly that. As a cover man Barron has some limitations. He's not as fluid in the hips as you'd like to see, but should be able to stick with tight ends. He does have a good closing burst to the ball.
14. Dallas Cowboys - SS Mark Barron (Stanford)...The Cowboys fill a huge need with this pick and feel Barron will provide a huge upgrade to their secondary.
Alabama’s Mark Barron is far and away the top safety prospect in this class and the only consensus first round talent at the position. Not only does Barron have a nice blend of size and speed but he also earns high marks for his football intangibles. Barron is definitely more of an in-the-box type but he has also flashed some playmaking ability in coverage. In many ways Barron compares favorably to LaRon Landry and he would likely be the best safety that Dallas has had since Darren Woodson.
A few fan drafts.
The Dallas Cowboys have a large need at guard, and Stanford's David DeCastro is a candidate here to make it back-to-back Cardinal offensive linemen taken. Had the Chiefs not taken defensive tackle Fletcher Cox three picks ago, he also could have made a viable option. However, in the end, a player of Mark Barron's ability will be too much to pass up. The Cowboys ranked 23rd in the NFL against the pass in 2011, and while they did sign Brandon Carr to fill Terrance Newman's shoes at cornerback, their backline leaves much to be desired. Barron is a dynamic playmaker from the safety spot, with the toughness and size (6'1", 213 pounds) to be a force against the run, but also fast and athletic enough to be an asset in coverage. He is the latest in the new wave of versatile safeties, and should make a great toy for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to play with.
With this pick we need to find a player that will have an immediate impact while also filling a position of need. At this point three offensive linemen have already been picked along with a DB and DT and 2 DE/OLB. Trading down was an option but having the option to take the best safety in the draft is just too appealing and so… With the 14th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft the Dallas Cowboys select out of Alabama SS Mark Barron. Barron has rare combination of size standing 6’2 218lbs and speed clocked as low as 4.47 40 but also brings leadership having been a staple for the National Champion Crimson Tide. We feel Barron will provide instant support in the pass defense allowing our defensive line to do what they do best and that is get to the QB.
Of course, this is all speculative stuff. But the trending pick for the Cowboys recently appears to be Mark Barron.