In life sometimes you need a new opportunity. Just ask Mark Barron.
The Rams traded for the former first-round safety from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the middle of the 2014 season. After the Rams found a role for him, an injury forced Barron into a full-time starting role as a starting hybrid linebacker/safety. Having settled into that role well in 2015, Barron landed a five-year, $45 million deal this offseason.
Now with the comfort of his long-term security locked up, how will he perform in the new Rams defense without DE Chris Long, MLB James Laurinaitis, CB Janoris Jenkins and S Rodney McLeod?
Barron doesn't really have any pure competition for his role. Akeem Ayers who could end up seeing an increase of time on the field as the primary pure OLB. After those two, there really is not much on the roster as it relates to depth at this position.
Although there is nothing for Barron to worry about, it would be difficult for the Rams to replace him if he is hurt.
Barron should be expected to perform as well as he did when he stepped up as the primary option to replace Alec Ogletree last season. He finished with 116 tackles and 5 pass deflections, clearly an impact player for the Rams - hence the long-term deal the team signed him to.
How important is Barron to the defensive squad? NFL analyst Andy Benoit for Sports Illustrated's MMQB had this to say:
#Rams notes: Barron a key, KEY piece in a scheme like Gregg Williams. Versatile blitzer, aggressive chase run defender and can cover TE’s.— Andy Benoit (@Andy_Benoit) July 28, 2016
#Rams notes: Barron a much better attacker than reactor. Why a better LB than S, and why he’s better under G. Williams than Lovie.— Andy Benoit (@Andy_Benoit) July 28, 2016
Chances of Making Final Roster (10/10)
He could party with Johnny Manziel during training camp and still make the team.