After trading down from the fifth to the seventh overall pick in a swap with the Jaguars, the Buccaneers addressed a huge need by selecting the top safety in this year’s draft, Alabama’s Mark Barron.
The Bucs no doubt would have loved to have stayed at No. 5 and had RB Trent Richardson fall to them, but the Browns coveted him, too, and had the ammo to move up from the fourth pick and select him third overall. Tampa Bay picked up an extra fourth-round pick by moving down and getting into position to take Barron.
Tampa Bay has to face the high-octane passing attacks of the Falcons, Panthers and Saints six games each season, and, after making major upgrades on offense in free agency earlier this offseason, improving on defense was a must for them in the draft. A season after setting a new franchise record for most points allowed, the Bucs added a presence to help them better match up vs. the explosive offenses that they will be competing against for years to come.
Barron should be a starter from Day One. He will be a physical presence inside the box and will help improve a run defense that was consistently gashed last season. He’s not an elite athlete, but he has good instincts in coverage and can provide leadership in the secondary when Ronde Barber eventually rides off into the sunset.
Prior to drafting Barron, the Bucs’ safety corps consisted of Larry Asante, Ahmad Black, Ron Girault, Cody Grimm and Devin Holland — just a bunch of guys. They now have a solid starter to plug into the back end and help them prevent the big plays that they allowed too frequently last season.
Barron probably wasn't the team's first choice heading into Thursday — that very well could have been Richardson — but the Bucs made the most of their situation.