Coming out of high school, Mark Barron played running back, wide receiver and linebacker. Once he joined the Alabama Crimson Tide though, he was remade at safety into one of the most punishing defensive backs in the country. Drafted seventh overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, his career floundered with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the middle of his third season though, the St. Louis Rams traded for him to see if a change of scenery would help boost his fortunes. In 2015, Barron was still working at the back of the defense until injury struck — to OLB Alec Ogletree though, not to Barron. When Tree broke his leg in 2015, Barron was shipped to play the weak side next to ILB James Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis was released heading into 2016 with Ogletree tabbed to takeover the 4-3 Mike allowing Barron moved to OLB full-time. A year later under a new defense, Barron moved inside with him under new Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.
That linebacker/safety relationship is one that has served many defenders over the years.
And it might well continue to serve another Ram in LB/S Travin Howard.
Howard played safety in high school and initially at TCU before making a move to linebacker in the middle of his sophomore season. A seventh-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Howard didn’t break through last year and was cut in the build of the 2018 53-man roster after lining up at linebacker in the preseason. Howard came back in mid-October though to join the Rams’ practice squad and stayed there through the regular season into the playoffs.
While he doesn’t have the expectation level of a 7th overall pick, he’s got the hybrid mantle.
Does that help Howard make the 53-man roster in 2019?
A question here of where he starts out heading into training camp and the preseason this year.
If it’s inside, he’s likely battling behind ILB Micah Kiser against guys like Natrez Patrick (roster preview) and Troy Reeder (roster preview).
If it’s at safety, he’s in the depth mix with Nick Scott, Steven Parker (roster preview) and Jake Gervase (roster preview).
In any case, it’s not a battle that looks to prove too tough for him from the outset.
Not after spending last year on the PS. If anything, he’s got the bonus of low/no expectations paired with some experience with the coaching staff.
Chances of making the final roster (5/10)
Last year, Misone had him at a 5/10 to make the cut. I’ll run with it again this year. If he picked up anything from Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel or helped hone his game defensively, he could well find himself on the roster as the Rams get ready for Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.