For those of you who have been following my articles, you know that the first round is very murky. I haven\'t been convinced that the two major positions of need (OLine and NT) have any feasible options at 1.24. I don\'t feel convinced about Mike Adams (subpar drive, reefer madness), Jonathan Martin (finesse blocker) or Cordy Glenn (weight issues). At NT many of the options aren\'t suited for needs of the Steelers 3-4 defense. Fletcher Cox, Devon Still and Jerel Worthy fall into this category. Dontari Poe has a lot of question marks for a first round pick and his college resume leaves a lot to be desired. That led me to look into alternative positions of need.
I would list S, TE and ILB as the next largest positions of need. RB and CB are up there, but I\'m comfortable with the options currently under contract. ILB is definitely a position of need, but if you listened the interview with Keith Butler, linebackers need to be groomed. This means a linebacker will likely be a special teamer for the first few years. If you want proof, look at the amount of snaps Jason Worilds and Stevenson Sylvester have played since being drafted. I like 1st rounder players that can contribute year 1. Coby Fleener and Mark Barron immediately jumped out at me. The difference is Fleener would be considered a reach and Barron would have to drop to reach 1.24. I\'ve already talked about Fleener a lot so I\'ll look deeper into Barron. Depending on the mock, Barron either gets drafted in the middle of the first, or at the end. Many think the Dallas Cowboys have his name already written on their draft boards.
I was reading an article on NFL.com by Charley Casserly about Barron and he thinks that Barron might not even make it to Dallas\' pick (1.14). Casserly\'s article has fan boy written all over it, but he makes some valid points. Casserly has experience stemming back to his days as a Washington Redskins executive. I was intrigued by his method of choosing between two players. He considered how many pro bowls the player will make and who he would want to take into New York to play the New York Giants (I think the Giants reference can be translated to the Ravens). This is similar to the method I use. I instead consider who I would not want the opposing team to draft and use against me.
In his analysis of Barron, he also highlights his affinity for both man coverage (against tight ends) and zone coverage (great instincts). He rotated down to linebacker in Nickel formations at Alabama which speaks to his ability to tackle and play in the trenches. Aside from drafting for team needs, executives need to draft to the strength of the draft. That means looking at how deep the position is and considering how much better a high projected player is. You also have to think about what kind of need the position is. Do you need depth (WR) a starter (NT) or another option to bolster a solid position (OLB).
I believe that tight end and safety lack elite talent outside of Fleener and Barron. There are however, a few more options at safety than tight end. But, the fact that NT and OLine are deeper in rounds 2-5 indicate that if they don\'t get Barron in round 1, they likely won\'t have an opportunity until much later in the draft. Draft strategies are getting deeper and the draft is less than a week away. One thing may be for sure, if team scouts think as highly of Barron as Casserly, we won\'t have to worry about him in round 1.