For nearly a decade, the Dallas Cowboys defense has been without a safety net. That should change Thursday night when Jerry Jones and company adds Alabama Crimson Tide strong safety Mark Barron to the roster.
Barron will become, by all indications, the best player at the position since Roy Willams (the young, ferocious-hitting, play-making variety). He may, in fact, become the best at the position since the great Darren Woodson, the best defensive player on the ’90s Cowboys team, the one that dominated a decade.
In his four years at the University of Alabama, Barron recorded 149 tackles. He had 13 tackles for a loss, five sacks and 12 interseptions. He also forced 12 fumbles. He helped Alabama win two national championships.
NFL.com gives Barron a 90 rating, which means they expect him to be a first-round pick, an impact player and an immediate starter. They offer the following overview of the player:
Barron was an imposing defender at Alabama. He simply looked like a professional, from the way that he prepared and warmed up to his productivity and on-field presence. A stalwart at safety, he has the size and athletic ability to contribute right away in the NFL. He has the range and ball skills to make big plays and is an active defender against the run. Barron projects as a top-50 pick.
Gerald Sensabaugh has manned the position for the Cowboys for the past three seasons. He recorded 158 tackles and eight interceptions during that time. He forced two fumbles and recovered two. He didn’t have the kind of impact blitzing you would want from a man at his position. He recorded just two sacks in three seasons.
Of course, if you watched the Cowboys during that three–year period, you know how porous the Dallas defensive backfield was, especially at critical times in close games. If Barron becomes the professional player he is projected to be, he will be an instant upgrade at a position that has been undermanned for too long.
Charlie Campbell of Walterfootball.com summarizes Barron this way:
When watching Alabama, Barron jumps out and is all over the field. He makes tackles in run support and always seems to be in the right spot in pass coverage. He is a big safety who may be the hardest-hitting player at his position in the 2012 NFL Draft class.
At 6’2, 218, Barron could be the kind of intimidator you want at the strong safety position. If he has receivers hearing footsteps, they will be first footsteps they have heard from a Cowboys’ safety in a very long time.