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2017 Rams Roster Preview: LB Mark Barron, Headhunter

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Does Mark Barron make a smooth transition to ILB in a 3-4 defense?

Los Angeles Rams v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

When the Los Angeles Rams traded their 4th- and 6th-round 2015 NFL Draft picks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for S Mark Barron, many saw it as a win for the Rams. While his natural talent hadn’t meshed well with former Bucs HC Greg Schiano, there was no denying the level of that talent, and many saw a trade motivated by Barron’s off-field frustrations to benefit the Rams on the field immediately. That turned out to be very true, as Barron has made a smooth transition to linebacker.

In his two full years at LB, Barron has over 230 tackles, 2 sacks, 13 PDF’s, 2 INT’s, and 3 FF’s. He’s been a very productive player for the Rams, and one that offers a lot of ability. The real question surrounding Barron (and all other Rams) this offseason is whether or not he can remain as effective in the transition to new Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 front, and whether or not it will suit his skill set effectively:

https://www.profootballfocus.com/news/pro-rams-appear-set-to-keep-barron-at-linebacker

This is incredibly impressive for a guy who’s only played LB for 28 games in his career.

Roster Battle

Barron will be an unchallenged starter at ILB next to Alec Ogletree, but his competition in terms of depth will be ILB Bryce Hager (roster preview), Josh Forrest (roster preview) and Cory Littleton (roster preview).

This doesn’t mean much for Barron and his job though as he and Ogletree will have their places solidified inside the defense.

Expectations

I thoroughly expect Barron to be an impact player. The more he continues to play at LB, the more comfortable he should get. Playing next to another athletic and versatile LB like Ogletree allows Barron to be moved around and used in all types of schemes, making them a good duo. Both are capable of flowing sideline-to-sideline and athletically chase people all over the field. Playing downhill taking on opposing guards and fullbacks may not be his game, but as a run defender he hasn’t exactly been a liability, so he’s done an admirable job in all terms of the game.

Chances of Making the Final Roster (10/10)

Mark Barron signed a 5-year, $45m deal just last offseason, so he won’t be going anywhere this year. Barron is also a versatile and impact player, so that further reduces the chances he goes elsewhere.