Very rarely do teams come away with a draft class that produces good Rookie of the Year candidates on both sides of the ball, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did just that in 2012 by nabbing running back Doug Martin at the end of Round 1 and linebacker Lavonte David (fifth in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting) late in Round 2.
The first haul under Coach Greg Schiano stood among the best in the league, including the more-publicized epic drafts of the Washington Redskins‘ led by quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris along with the Seattle Seahawks‘ haul headed by quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner.
The Bucs also passed over cornerback Morris Claiborne in that draft, electing to trade down from pick No. 5 to No. 7 and select Mark Barron, who now serves as this class’s “X” factor. Barron’s rookie year proved much more bumpy than the two Bucs drafted right behind him, serving as strong safety on a defense that finished last in total pass defense. While he provided a presence in the box, Barron ended up ranking 82nd among 88 safeties in Pro Football Focus coverage grades.
However, if Darrelle Revis can stay healthy , rookie Johnthan Banks provides a decent No. 2 corner and Dashon Goldson meets the hype at free safety, the learning curve could come much faster for Barron. He’s basically going from a disaster zone of a secondary to a unit that is suddenly quite intriguing.
If Revis is ready for Week 1, then he can bring the type of presence that elevated so many mediocre safety tandems with the New York Jets into a dangerous group here with the Bucs’ young, talented pairing of Barron and Goldson.