Is a good run defender that has good instincts when playing the run. Is quick to come up and attack the line of scrimmage and ball carrier, able to fill at times against the inside run. Not afraid to mix it up and never shies from contact. Has good closing burst on the ball and is a consistent wrap-tackler in the open field. Has good speed and range when it comes to defending the run, and comfortable playing deep or in the box. Will deliver a blow to the receiver to separate him from the ball over the middle. Does a nice job reading the quarterback well and will break on the ball to disrupt the throw. Does a good job reading things in front of him on short zones. Can make plays on the ball in centerfield, especially down the seam or over the top if the throw hangs up in the air, leading to the turnover. Has decent hips for a safety that makes him comfortable matching up with slot receivers and tight ends. Has good burst off the corner when used as a blitzer.
Lacks ideal size to fill against the run at times when he's working inside. Will tackle high at times and tends to be more of a drag-down guy that someone that will really be a big hitter or throw his weight around. Doesn't always take the best angles to the ball in run support. At times, can get caught out of position when trying to make a play in deep centerfield, letting the receiver get behind him. Can get caught looking in the backfield at times, and give up the big play, and doesn't showcase ideal ball skills when working in man coverage.
Barron first came to my attention when he was a sophomore, and I thought he was potentially the best player in their secondary, one that featured Kareem Jackson, Javier Arenas, and Marquis Johnson, all of whom were drafted in 2010. He followed that up with a lackluster junior year where he made some a few too many mistakes in coverage, but has come on with a strong senior campaign. He was the leader of that Alabama secondary, showing his intelligence and consistency as a three-year starter at strong safety. Barron has always been a solid run defender, but his coverage abilities have not always been great. But in the games I saw this year, he was solid in coverage. But I'm not sure if at the next level, he'll still be more of a run defender than a ball-hawking safety. He is coming off sports hernia surgery, which kept him from all but a minimal workout at Alabama's pro day, but is expected to be able to suit up for training camp this summer, so it shouldn't really affect his future.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(10/22) vs. Tennessee: 0.5 stuffs, 0 targets, 0 rec., 0 yds, 1 PD
(11/5) vs. LSU: 0.5 TFLs, 1 tgt., 0 rec. 0 yds, 1 INT
(1/9) vs. LSU: 1 sack, 0.5 stuffs, 0 tgt., 0 rec. 0 yds
2011: 13 GP/12 GS, 68 tackles, 5.0 TFLS, 1.0 sacks, 2 INTs, 5 PDs, 0 FF, 1 FR
- had hernia surgery following 2011 season
- missed 1 game due to a torn pectoral in 2010
Barron reminds me of William Moore, except minus all of the questions about his coverage abilities. Barron has proven himself to be at best a good cover man and at worst a decent one during his three years as a starter in Alabama. He reminds me of Moore because he's one of the more instinctual and natural run-defending safeties I've seen come out since Moore. I've liked Barron for some time, but I'm not overly convinced he's an elite safety. At least not in terms of his coverage ability. By no means do I think he'll be a poor cover safety at the next level, but he doesn't strike me as the next Ed Reed by any means. He can play free safety because he's smart and comfortable in coverage, but I think he's a much more natural strong safety. For me, to really think of him as a potential top free safety, I want to see a bit more range and ball skills in coverage like I saw with Earl Thomas a few yaers ago. In contrast, I think he's more akin to Eric Berry or LaRon Landry, the types of players that are capable of playing free safety, but much more natural playing strong safety. If you were to team with a ball-hawking cover free safety, it would really accent his abilities. I think he's a fairly consistent player that is pretty safe as far as safeties go. He'll find a role on any team and within any scheme, but I think he'll work best in a scheme that plays him at strong safety and will use him as a rover type of guy that will play all over the field in order to create and exploit matchups. I'm not sure he'll be Troy Polamalu in that role, but I do think he'll be a Top 10 safety that at worst is going to be a more consistent version of Kerry Rhodes. The only issue with Barron is durability, which is always the issue with safeties. It's the most injury prone position on defense, and especially if he's playing the strong spot and playing the run more often, that increases the chances he could be nicked up. But for the value that he'll bring to the table when he is on the field, then it should certainly make up for it. Barron is a guy that you can expect to come in right away and be a good NFL safety, and from that point on grow into at least a very good if not great one.
William Moore, Falcons.
While Barron isn't the most natural free safety, it would likely be his role here in Atlanta. He and Moore would be an extremely physical group of safeties, but the question is whether Barron is as strong in coverage that will make both of them long-term solutions together. And while Barron can be a better cover safety than DeCoud, I don't think it'll be by a huge degree. So eventually you see the Falcons having to make a move there to get a better player. It's just hard seeing Moore and Barron being able to co-exist long-term. Barron would likely be used as a package player as a rookie, but eventually move into the lineup by 2013 at either spot. Eventually, Barron probably pushes Moore out of a job, if not in 2013 when MOore is a free agent, or when Barron's rookie deal is up and the Falcons need to commit long-term to him. Barron would only really be a short-term fix at free safety. He should be an upgrade over Moore at strong safety because he's more reliable in man coverage, that should help the team out against quality tight ends in the division.
Barron is a solid first round pick that should go in the middle of the round. He would not be a reach at the tail-end of the Top 15, but it's hard to justify that high a pick for a safety when he's not a unique athlete, which Barron isn't quite. Top 12 is probably pushing it, but at any point after that he'd make a solid to excellent pickup.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Man Coverage: 6.0
Zone Coverage: 7.0
Ball Skills: 7.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.