The opinions and analysis contained in this feature are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the thoughts and opinions of the Seahawks’ coaching staff and personnel department.
At the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Mark Barron was considered the best prospect in a weak group of safeties and projected to be a mid-first round pick in the NFL Draft.
This week, there was a report that the San Diego Chargers are interested in trading up from the 18th pick in Thursday’s first round to take the Alabama strong safety. And NFL Network analyst Charlie Casserly has Barron listed as the seventh-best player in the draft – behind only the QB duo of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, who are expect to go 1-2 to the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins; tackle Matt Kalil, running back Trent Richardson, cornerback Morris Claiborne and receiver Justin Blackmon.
“The message here is crystal clear: A lot of teams are very interested in selecting Barron high in Round 1,” wrote Casserly, the former general manager of the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans. “Why is there all this interest? To put it simply, Barron is one of the best players in his draft.”
But it’s never that simple, so Casserly added, “In scouting the draft, you compare prospects to previous players taken in a round to decide what value to put on them. This is how I arrive at my thinking: Mark Barron is worth a Top-10 pick.”
That’s saying a lot, and here’s a sampling of what Barron had to say during his Q&A session with reporters at the combine:
Q: What’s better, a hard hit or an interception?
A: “I like making plays, period. I would say the interception because that’s more of a game-changer. That affects the game more. I like hitting and making interceptions.”
Q: Will playing in a complex defense at Alabama help you with NFL defenses?
A: “Most definitely. That’s something I knew when I first went to ’Bama is we had a complex defense and an NFL-type scheme. Going into it, I knew it was going to prepare me for the next level. Actually, that was one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Alabama. I feel like that has prepared me of the next level.”
Q: You won state titles in high school in the high jump, triple jump, shot put and discus. What was that all about?
A: “I’ve always been able to do a lot of different things. I’m usually good with whatever I put my mind to. Yeah, that’s something I take pride in. In the shot put, there are a lot of big guys and I was always the smallest one and I used to go out there and beat all of them. That was kind of funny.”
Q: How do you feel about the NFL levying fines for aggressive play, especially in the secondary?
A: “Honestly, I don’t like them because of the way I’ve been taught to play the game. I hit hard. I guess I’ll have to make some adjustments. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make them. I’m not sure if I will because that the way I was taught to play the game. I guess we’ll see what happens.”
Q: Safeties aren’t traditionally drafted that high. What are your thoughts on that?
A: “I feel like it very hard for us safeties to get in the first round, so I think that shows you that the position of safety is being undervalued. If a guy is a good player, then he’s a good player. I don’t see why, position-wise, if you have a better player that’s a safety and then you have a corner that might not be a better football player, I don’t see why the corner should go ahead of the safety. I’ve seen it happen. I just don’t understand it.”