Bucs trade down two spots and select Alabama S Mark Barron with the 7th overall pick
The first time Bucs coach Greg Schiano put on a video of Alabama safety Mark Barron, he thought he had randomly stumbled on his best game.
"I'm really excited about this player,'' Schiano said. "I think he fits into what we do defensively perfectly. You couldn't draw it up better.
"This guy plays at a high level in what is definitely the most competitive college football conference in the land. He not only plays in that conference, but I thought he was a dominating player at his position. I can't tell you how excited I am to get him down here.''
With LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne on the board, the Bucs traded down two spots from No. 5 overall with the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 7 to select Barron, the first safety and only the third defensive back to be taken by the club in the first round.
Barron, a two-time captain for Alabama, will provide help for a Bucs team that was last in the NFL in rushing defense last season.
The 6-foot-1, 213-pound Barron was the quarterback of the defense for the national champion Crimson Tide defense. He is a physical, run-stopper for an Alabama team that led the nation in run defense, allowing 72.15 yards per game.
"Mark is, first of all, a really good person,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said of Barron on a recent interview on a Dallas radio station. "He’s got great character, very mature, very well respected by his teammates. He doesn’t say a lot, he’s a little quiet, but he’s a very effective leader. He’s got great size and speed, has good ball skills, has some cover ability, has a lot of flexibility as a player, a lot of diversity as a player. He can play safety in the short field or in the deep field, he can play fifth defensive back or sixth defensive back, and he’s a really good special teams guy. So this is a good all-around guy and he’s got the right stuff – believe me – to be a good player for a long time. He’s special.''
The Bucs released safety Tanard Jackson earlier this month for a failed physical, saying he wasn't showing growth as a player. That left the Bucs with four safeties, but among them, only Cody Grimm has started an NFL regular season game.
Tampa Bay also used the recently completed voluntary minicamp last week to move cornerback Ronde Barber to safety.
Barron would play strong safety and give the Bucs a hard-nosed player who can be like an extra linebacker in the box.
"It's funny, I was talking to him on the phone and he's fired up,'' Schiano said. "He says, "Coach, can you send me a playbook?' I said, "Well, you're going to be down here tomorrow, Mark, and we'll get you a playbook, I promise you.
"That's the kind of guy he is. He lives this great game, he loves it, he studies it and I can't wait to coach him.''
The Bucs received a fourth-round pick from the Jaguars (101 overall) to move down two spots to No. 7. Jacksonville selected Oklahoma St. receiver Justin Blackmon.
The Dallas Cowboys followed by trading from No. 14 to No. 6 with the Rams to select Claiborne.
Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said he was a little nervous when the Cowboys traded up, fearing they might take Barron. He said the Bucs would've been comfortable taking Barron at No. 5.
The NFL draft was shaken by a trade about an hour before the selection show began, resulting in Alabama running back Trent Richardson going to the Cleveland Browns at No. 3.
The Browns, who owned the fourth overall pick, moved up a spot to the third overall choice with the Minnesota Vikings. In exchange, the Browns sent a fourth (118th overall), fifth (139) and seventh-round picks to the Vikings.
The Browns were dealing from strength, having entered the draft with 13 player selections, including two picks in rounds four, five and seven.
The Bucs had an interest in Richardson, whom coach Greg Schiano had called a 'special talent.' He would've given the BUcs' the 'bell cow,' back that the former Rutgers coach covets, a player who can remain on the field every down.
But in the end, the Browns reportedly were worried about Tampa Bay jumping up to No. 3 with Minnesota to take Richardson. The Browns also had more fire power. Tampa Bay did not own a fourth round pick and most likely would've had to give up their third-round choice as part of any package for Richardson.
Shortly after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell approached the podium to begin the draft, things went according to script. The Indianapolis Colts took Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck No. 1 overall and the Washington Redskins took Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III No. 2.