October 28th came out of nowhere.
The Rams sent their fourth and sixth-round picks in the 2015 NFL Draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to secure the services of safety Mark Barron. A standout rookie in 2012 as the seventh overall pick in that year's draft, Barron's NFL career got off to the right start. His production in 2013 improved slightly, but the Buccaneers' defense was falling apart (the offense was too, but Barron can only do so much). So seven games into 2014, the Rams snagged Barron off of Tampa's roster in year one of the Lovie Smith rebuild.
Now with the Rams, he's got a more situational role than the everydown player he was in Tampa Bay. Meant to supplement the run defense, Barron isn't asked to provide as much pass coverage as he was with the Bucs. How does he fit into the overall defense with T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod firmly entrenched at safety?
Well part of it is to think of Barron less as a safety and more of an extra linebacker. He's not rotating with McDonald or McLeod as much as he is with Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Akeem Ayers. As Ayers is new, we'll have to see throughout the preseason and early on in the regular season how the Rams are figuring that triangle out, assuming that James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree remain mainstays of the linebacking group on all downs.
This is tough for me to feel out. He's a specialist. How much do you demand here? Adequacy seems like a fair starting point since he's not being asked to do too much. At the same time, he doesn't have to be a star. Did the Rams get adequacy out of Barron in 2014? I'd say so. So perhaps the expectation for Barron in year two is just "YAIS MOAR."
Chances of Making Final Roster (10/10)
He's in, but I'm eager to see how he gets worked in. Last week against the Raiders, he picked up some time as the reserve safety once McD & McL stepped out.
What do you want from Barron in 2015?