When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Mark Barron with the seventh pick of the 2012 draft many had high expectations of the All-American safety out of the University of Alabama. It’s very rare that a safety gets selected in the top ten, but Barron’s size and performance over his collegiate career made him a very treasured commodity in the draft.
From the start of training camp he was put into the starting lineup as a top ten rookie should be. He learned the playbook and after missing the first preseason game with a minor injury was in for the second where he recorded an interception against Tom Brady. This just boosted expectations of what he could become and do for the team this year.
In the first game against the Carolina Panthers he continued that trend by making a couple of highlight reel plays. The hit he put of Steve Smith sent chills down fans spine, reminding them of the days when John Lynch used to patrol the secondary. Add in a sensational pass breakup where he dove and prevented a touchdown and Bucs fans thought the sky was the limit this year for Barron.
Unfortunately for him that would be one of his best games all season. Since then he has been abused in coverage and missed too many tackles for a first round pick. There are already countless threads out there on how he is already a bust.
Before we cast the stone on his play this year, we need to remember that he wasn’t even recruited to Alabama as a safety. Coming out of high school he was an athlete and more of a running back then a defensive player. Over his time at Alabama he began the transition to becoming a top notch safety, but even there he wasn’t asked to play a lot of man coverage.
Coming into the league this was something everyone knew and something that he has to work on. While I’m not excusing his poor coverage or his blown tackles, just remember that one year doesn’t make or break anyone.
Buccaneers fans should know better than anyone about rookie year all-stars who turn into nothing. I mean if we judged Michael Clayton on his rookie year he would be in the Hall of Fame while Ronde Barber would have never gotten a shot.
Even the great John Lynch, who is a Hall of Fame candidate this year, didn’t start in double digit games until his fourth season. I think fans need to remember that thing called patience and to not forget that it’s not about how you start; it’s about how you finish.