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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs take S Barron, RB Martin in first round

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 04:27 AM
TAMPA -

When he first sat down to study video of Alabama safety Mark Barron a couple months ago, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano pulled out what looked to him like a highlight reel of Barron's best game.

Little did Schiano know that virtually every video he'd eventually watch of Barron would leave him feeling like he was watching Barron's best game.

"The first film I watched of him, I was like, 'Wow,'" Schiano said Thursday after the Bucs selected Barron with the seventh pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. "And the more we watched the more we felt like this kid is a fit for the Bucs.

"I mean, he's a leader, he has a physical presence, and he absolutely loves football. Studying tape, studying the defense, studying the opponent, he just loves it. He's our kind of guy. He's who we are, he's what we are."

So too, it seems, is former Boise State running back Doug Martin. After trading from fifth to seventh to get a fourth-round pick from Jacksonville the Bucs gave their second-round pick and that fourth to Denver for the Broncos fourth-round pick and the 31st overall pick, which they used to get Martin.

Both moves filled areas of great need for the Bucs, who became dangerously thin at safety after releasing Tanard Jackson two weeks ago and had only two running backs (LeGarrette Blount and Mossis Madu) on their roster.

"I just feel really blessed tonight to have the two guys we have," Schiano said. "You're talking about captains, leaders of two very good football programs having just come from college.

"The Alabamas and the Boise States, those are the programs that have just won consistently over time and to have the two guys that are the leaders of those programs on our football team, I can't wait to get them in here."

The Bucs obviously couldn't wait to bring in Martin. They traded up six spots to get back into the first round to get him, and there was more to that than his leadership skills.

A powerfully-built 5-foot-9, 219-pound back who has run for more than 1,200 yards each of the last two years, Martin gives the Bucs an every-down complement to LeGarrette Blount who also excels as a pass catcher and pass protector.

"For us there were a couple of reasons the trade made sense," Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said. "One of them was, we wanted to get a back in this draft and we felt like (Martin) is a very complete back.

"This league is a two- to three-back league now and we feel like Doug Martin can contribute in all the phases of the game and has been a productive player and can do that for us, so we're excited to have him."

What has the Bucs so excited about Barron is not just his ability to come down into the box and deliver a punishing hit on a ball carrier or pass catcher but the skills he also possesses as a leader.

A two-time Crimson Tide captain, Barron is said by scouts to have the instincts and smarts necessary to run the back half of a defense and to lead an entire team in the locker room.

"The way I lead is basically by example," said Barron, A Mobile, Ala. native who at 6-foot-1 and 213 pounds became the first safety ever drafted in the first round by the Buccaneers.

"I mean, you can't motivate somebody to do something if you're not willing to do it yourself, so I think (my teammates twice voting me captain) was mostly out of respect."

What opponents will come to expect, the Bucs believe, is Barron's ability to help both as a run stopper and pass defender, though some scouts have questioned Barron's coverage skills.

A scouting report produced by Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly said Barron lacked the foot speed and range to get over the top and had a tendency to struggle in transition with a receiver.

Barron, who had 12 career interceptions, said his record as a pass defender who has given up only a handful of touchdown passes proves he can defend against anyone in the passing game and the Bucs agree.

"He has been a productive player that can play the ball," Dominik said. "He has hands (and) ball skills. He has the range and understands the angles to play coverage. I think that's what makes him attractive."

Those weren't the only on-field traits that attracted the Bucs to Barron. His versatility, which he said he developed by trying to implement aspects of other great safeties into his game, caught the Bucs eyes, too.

"Our safeties have to be more dynamic than most teams," Schiano said. "They have to be able to play man to man on a wide receiver, play the deep half and come down into the box (and play the run).

"That's a challenging position and I think he'll really be able to do those things. He's a young guy, he'll have to come in and learn it. But we drafted this guy to come in here and be our safety for a long time, God willing."

The move, which became more of a priority after the Bucs suddenly released Tanard Jackson two weeks ago, won't automatically end the experiment the Bucs were conducting with cornerback Ronde Barber at safety.

Though the Bucs expect Barron to start and for fellow starting safety Cody Grimm to return from his season-endign knee injury, they may continue to work Barber at safety.

"I don't think it's an either-or situation," Schiano said. "We're just trying to figure out how the get the best 11 players on the field. Conceivably, it could be Mark and Ronde back there."

The two trades the Bucs made were among several conceived during the early going of the first round, including one in which Cleveland traded up from fourth to third to get Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

Dominik said that move didn't alter the Bucs' plans for their first pick because they were intending to take Barron all along. Still, he was happy to add a fourth-round pick because it allowed them to cut the deal with the Broncos that got them Martin, who fits Schiano's mold as well.

"Whatever role it is (they have in mind for me)," Martin said, "I'm ready to go."

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