Bucs Picked Mark Barron To Stop Jimmy GrahamJuly 9th, 2014
Joe is well aware a lot of Bucs fans are not exactly sleeping at night while wearing Mark Barron jerseys. The third-year safety has been a steady player since being selected seventh overall in the 2013 draft.
Barron has been OK thus far. He’s pretty good against the run. He can deliver a ferocious hit at times (just ask RGIII). As a pass defender, well, let’s just say Barron needs polishing.
Why does Joe bring this up?
It seems Joe’s good friend, the creator, curator and overall guru of ProFootballTalk.com, the great Mike Florio, dug up a precious gem in the legal squabble over whether Jimmy Graham of the Saints is a tight end or not. Former Bucs, um, well, eerr, um, employee Butch Davis (Joe still doesn’t know what the hell Davis did for the Bucs, and few do outside of Davis, former Bucs commander Greg Schiano, and maybe former Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik) testified that the only reason the Bucs drafted Barron so high was to be Graham’s kryptonite.
“We took [safety] Mark Barron in the first round simply because of Jimmy Graham,” Davis said of the team’s decision with the eighth overall pick that year.
The goal, as Davis explained it, was to have Barron cover Graham for short to intermediate routes, with help over the top on deeper routes, because Graham is faster than Barron.
It hasn’t exactly worked; the Saints are 4-0 against the Bucs since Barron arrived.
So Joe decided to do some hunting and pecking on his keyboard to see just what Graham has done against the Bucs since Barron was drafted.
In 2012, the only time Graham and Barron squared off in Barron’s rookie year came in a complete and total Saints beatdown of the Bucs late in the season, 41-0. Graham had five catches for 69 yards, an average of 13.8 yards a catch. No touchdowns.
In 2013, the first time the two teams locked horns at the Stadium on Dale Mabry Highway, a 16-14 Bucs loss, Graham lit up the Bucs with nine catches for 179 yards and a touchdown, an average of 17.9 yards (!) a catch. In the season finale, Graham had more modest numbers in yet another Saints chain-whipping of the Bucs (42-17), Graham caught five balls for 71 yards and a touchdown for an average of 14.2 yards a catch.
With apologies to the stat geeks and their favorite term, despite it being a (ahem) small sample size (three games), the reaching of Barron with the seventh pick overall for the sole purpose of stopping Graham has been a swing-and-a-miss so far.
If you are choosing a player with a top-10 draft selection, he needs to be a major impact player, a game-changer. And while Barron is a serviceable-to-decent player, he most definitely hasn’t been an impact player (yet).