WHAT? That was the first response from nearly every Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan when word came down the Bucs were trading out of the fifth spot. With Morris Claiborne still available, the Bucs passed on the talented defensive back, opting to gain a 4th round pick via a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The result was Dallas jumping the Bucs to draft Caliborne and the Bucs selecting Alabama safety Mark Barron.
There is no critique in terms of the selection. There is critique in the compensation. Though GM Mark Dominik reportedly stated he would have selected Barron regardless at the fifth spot, the chain of events seem to point otherwise. Had the Bucs truly had Barron on their draft board as the best available, why would they have not traded with the Dallas Cowboys, whom gave up their 2nd round pick for Claiborne? The willingness to trade up for Claiborne does not seem like a spur of the moment decision. It was clear Claiborne was high enough on the Cowboys draft board that any opportunity which presented itself would be taken advantage of. The Rams were not on the Claiborne radar to begin with since common belief was he would never slip past the Bucs. This means the Cowboys would have had some communication with the Bucs in terms of trading up. Though the Cowboys 1st round pick could have put Barron out of reach, why not take him 5th as stated, instead of risking the Rams taking him themselves or trading with another team high on Barron? Hindsight may be 20/20, but hindsight shows there was much more value than the Bucs settled for.
The flip side is that Dominik could have been honest in his reported comments. Clearly they jumped the gun instead of carefully evaluating what they could have received in return for their 5th pick. This points to a certain amount of excitement about Barron, while getting added value in replacing the 4th round void Tampa had entering day one.
As far as Mark Barron is concerned, the Bucs made the smartest decision possible. Barron was not a banner name, but he could turn into a banner player. As I’ve reported frequently, the “4-3 Dallas” style defense Schiano will run nearly revolves around the strong safety. The position is considered the 5th defensive lineman, serving as a pass rush specialist and run stopping machine. The strong safety is the “X” factor, one which could make or break the scheme. Here you will find a 12 year old manual written by Chuck Pagano who coached with Butch Davis and Greg Schiano at the University of Miami. http://fastandfuriousfootball.com/wp-content/uploads/coachingmaterial2/43%20AFCAMiamiHurricanesDefensebyChuckPagano.pdf
As you can see after reading it, strong safety is perhaps the most valuable position on the field. Though more could have been attained for the 5th pick, nobody can blame Dominik for jumping the gun. At 6’1” and 213 pounds of muscle, Barron is considered the most instinctive and physical safety in the draft. He was able to do it all at Alabama, racking up 68 tackles, one sack and two picks. He was the only safety worth taking in the first round, leagues beyond any other candidate. The Buccaneers now have their John Lynch of the 21st century. A position of concern could have just been solidified for the next decade.
While responses to the Barron selection are initially mixed, there was no issue when the Bucs traded back into the first round to select Boise St. running back Doug Martin. Reportedly giving up their second round pick and moving down in the fourth round 25 spots, the Bucs ensured their selection of the second best graded running back in the draft. Most compared to Schiano student Ray Rice, Martin is a compact bulldozer, capable of adding a presence in the pass game the team has lacked. ESPN reported Schiano as stating Martin was both an “all around back” and “three down back”, two things Legarrette Blount is sure to be fired up over. In Martin, the Bucs now have the best tandem of running backs in recent memory. If “ground and pound” was the goal, Schiano has attained it.
With day two kicking off soon, it will be interesting to see what direction the Bucs move towards. The selection of Barron means Ronde can return to corner back and alleviate any concerns about Aqib Talib’s status. Round three could see a linebacker like Zach Brown slip to the Bucs, but should be heavy with second tier corner backs like Trumaine Johnson, Jamell Flemming and Dwight Bentley. Regardless of what we expect, the Bucs have taught us one thing this off-season; nobody knows what they are going to do.