Once a bust as a top-10 pick at safety, Barron has revitalized his career as a linebacker after a trade to the Rams. While his backgroud as a defensive back hasn't yielded any standout interception production -- his two last year were his first two as a Ram -- breezing past the 110-tackle mark the last two years made Barron a sound IDP investment. Under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the hope is that the playmaking stats -- sacks and interceptions -- might start to make more of a showing in Barron's box score. He certainly has the necessary athleticism.
Barron loses his safety eligibility after making the formal shift to linebacker for the Rams, but he's still poised to provide sound IDP utility in 2016. The departure of James Laurinaitis assures a three-down role for Barron, whose range as a former defensive back makes him an intriguing playmaker threat in a high-pressure Rams defense. After logging 116 tackles (79 solo) in 920 snaps last year, Barron is a candidate to see his play count surpass 1,000 and therefore see his tackle total exceed 130 in his second season at linebacker.
Barron may provide some depth at safety, as he had 23 tackles and a sack in nine games with the Rams last season. However, St. Louis has a lot of young guns at the safety position, so Barron will have to ward off some competition in training camp. If he makes the team, he should see some situational time, especially when the Rams blitz.
Barron had nearly identical numbers in his first two years in the league, posting 88 tackles in each instance while intercepting one pass in 2012 and two a year ago. The good news for his prospective IDP owners is that he posted the 2013 numbers while playing just 14 games, meaning he showed improved per-game production. If you project Barron's 2013 numbers over 16 games, you end up with roughly 101 tackles. Between that fact and the arrival of Lovie Smith, the coach who helped turn safeties like Adam Archuleta and Michael Green into triple-digit tacklers, Barron has a good chance to approach or exceed 100 tackles in 2014. The Buccaneers signed former Chicago safety Major Wright in free agency, but Wright was likely added to compete with the disappointing Dashon Goldson rather than Barron.
The seventh overall pick in the 2012 draft, Barron earned a full-time role off the bat for the Buccaneers, and he did a reasonable job as a rookie. But he had just one interception, forced only one fumble and occupied a prominent role in the league's lowest-ranked pass defense. Barron will be expected to improve in 2013, both in the box score and on the real field, particularly with Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton on the docket twice each this year. At the very least, Barron's tackle count should be a reliable source of points.
It’s risky to rank a rookie this high, but Barron looks set to deliver in 2012. The below-average Sean Jones totaled 92 tackles (76 solo) as Tampa Bay’s starting strong safety in 2011, and Barron should be an immediate and significant upgrade. With a strong safety skill set but free safety athleticism, Barron will be a three-down player for the Buccaneers, and the Tampa secondary should see a lot of tackle opportunities both due to a potentially weak front four and divisional opponents that throw the ball with great frequency. Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton attempted the second, seventh and 13th-most passes in the league last year, respectively, meaning the ball will be in Barron’s region often. With a big wingspan (33 5/8-inch arms) and the ability to make plays on the ball (12 interceptions in his final three years at Alabama), Barron should pull in a few interceptions to complement his tackle production.