Jimmy Graham, Meet Mark BarronJune 21st, 2012
NBC Sports Network guru Shaun King, one of three quarterbacks to lead the Buccaneers to an NFC Championship game, joined PFT Live yesterday and without hesitation proclaimed that the Saints Jimmy Graham is the best tight end in football.
So what, you say?
Well, the presence of Graham and others like him is a serious step in the evolution of the NFL and a big part of the reason the Bucs drafted Mark Barron in the first round of the 2012 draft, so says former NFL Scout and FOX Sports analyst Chris Landry.
Landry gave a fine Xs and Os explanation as he joined the dean of Tampa Bay sports radio, Steve Duemig, on WDAE-AM Friday.
“When you’ve got guys that are big enough and athletic enough, what you want to able to do is to cover guys inside cover the slot. Now what has changed, and what makes Mark Barron so valuable, and why they coveted him even more than Mo Claiborne, the reason is look where the league has gone in the past couple of years even: the big athletic tight ends. Because what has happened is while people have gone to the spread formation, defenses have come out and said we’re going to get more of these slot, these smaller cover corner guys into the slot to cover those two-way goes,” Landry said.
“Well, offenses know have found these [Rob] Gronkowski types that can run, Jimmy Graham types that can run but also have size. So how do you combat that? Well, if you can find a rare guy like a Mark Barron, who’s got size and athletic ability, that’s how you have to be able to cover those tight ends now. Becuase the real athletic corners are not big enough to match up against those guys. And so it is a game of catch-up with what the other side is doing, and that’s exactly why teams are trying to make that move.
“Now Mark Barron guys are very, very rare, which is why he was so coveted by a few teams and mainly the Bucs, because what division do they play in? Who do they have to cover in that division? Some very good tight ends. That becomes a factor when you have a lot of Y-Flex, the tight end being flexed out and being your inside reciever. That becomes a mismatch for your third and fourth corners in most cases, so your safeties have to be guys that can cover and be physical enough to handle those big guys.”
Joe will like to take a short time out to give thanks that Barron has replaced serial loafer Sean Jones in the Bucs secondary. To the best of Joe’s knowledge, Jones remains unemployed.
Regardless, the Graham-Barron matchup this season should be one of the most itriguing of the season for the Bucs’ defense. It’ll also be damn interesting to see how the Bucs handle Tony Gonzalez this season.