Mark Barron #4 Safety, Alabama. 6'2" 218 lbs.
Ed Reed still has it. The question is, how often is he willing to use it?
The Ravens have found another play maker at safety in Bernard Pollard. Pollard is the perfect compliment to Reed. Reed has developed into more of a strictly ball-hawking center fielder at this stage of his career. He is still capable of laying the wood if need be but it seems he saves that for special occasions these days.
Bernard Pollard is the perfect compliment to that. He is like having an extra linebacker in the secondary that can cover. Reed has the glove and Pollard carries the bat. Between the two the Ravens have the perfect safety.
Reed and Pollard however are seasoned veterans, Reed the more seasoned of the two and they won't be around forever. Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura are great back ups and viable options as starters if one were to go down but they are not play makers.
If the Ravens want to start grooming a replacement for Ed Reed they need look no further than Mark Barron in this years draft. He may not have the ball hawking skills of Reed yet but he definitely has them in there somewhere. Mark Barron is a football player and he can be dominant.
The chances of Barron being available at the Ravens pick probably aren't good. He is the best safety, by far, in this years draft and any team needing a one will take him in a heart beat. Although Barron is ranked number one at his position, he is also ranked the 30th best player in the draft, leaving open the possibility of him dropping. Especially if one position starts to fly off the board and teams get desperate to find their guy. If that happened I'm sure a team like New England or Dallas would trade up one spot ahead of us to grab him though...
One thing that could cause him to drop would be his missed scouting combine. Below is the latest news on th double-hernia surgery that caused his absence.
02/16/2012 - It will be interesting to see how teams evaluate Alabama's Mark Barron, the consensus top safety in the 2012 draft pool, since he won't be able to attend Scouting Combine workouts because of recent double-hernia surgery. There is much doubt as well that Barron will be sufficiently recovered for the Crimson Tide's pro day, which is scheduled for March 7. The normal recovery period for such surgery is six to eight weeks. Barron is a physical hitter and solid ballhawk, with 12 interceptions in his career, and he has played in what is arguably the college game's top secondary, and also has the endorsement of coach Nick Saban. The injury isn't expected to keep him out of the first round, but might allow a few other safety prospects an opportunity to make a move. - Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange
Considering he is a 'Bama boy, I'm sure Ozzie would take him if he's there though!
Here is some analysis on Barron from Rob Rang at cbssports.com:
Man Coverage: Not often asked to drop down and cover the slot in this scheme. Is a bit stiff in the hips and has only average change of direction. Does show a late burst to close on the football.
Zone Coverage: Good instincts and overall athleticism for zone coverage. A bit high in his backpedal as he's a high cut athlete, but can plant and drive downhill on the football. Reads the quarterback's eyes and has good feet, balance and straight-line speed, aiding him in being in consistently good position when in pass coverage.
Ball Skills: Classic ball hawk. Reads the quarterback's eyes and does a nice job of breaking on the throw. Good acceleration and straight-line speed. Very good ball skills for the position. Generally times his leaps well and has good hand-eye coordination to make the difficult grab. Good vision and natural running skills with the football.
Run Support: Reads run quickly and aggressively attacks, taking out blockers when he has help behind him. Unafraid of playing near the line of scrimmage, though he shows only average strength and technique to disengage. Good agility and speed to avoid blockers, showing an ability to make a lot of plays at or near the line of scrimmage. Prone to overrunning the play, however, and leaving potential cutback lanes for backs to exploit.
Tackling: Isn't as reliable an open-field tackler as you'd think, considering his reputation. Flies upfield in run support and can fail to break down properly. Doesn't possess the elite agility to dance with runners in the open field and always make the secure stop. Physical hitter who teases with textbook hit-lift-drive technique, but will also duck his head occasion to make the big hit and miss entirely or fail to wrap up securely and have the ball-carrier spin through his attempted tackle. Among his better traits, however, is his ability to take good angles when in pursuit. Understands his role as the last line of defense and rarely allows ball-carriers to get past him when he is in this position.
Intangibles: Arrested in March 2011 on charges of hindering prosecution, a misdemeanor charge, as police believed he was not telling full truth about one-car accident in his hometown of Mobile. Missed the Capital One Bowl after suffering a torn right pectoral muscle against Auburn. The injury played a major factor in Barron electing to return to Alabama for his senior season.