When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made safety Mark Barron the No. 7 overall pick of the 2012 draft, they knew what they would be getting from the Alabama product. After making his presence felt by laying a huge hit on Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith on opening day last season, Barron was somewhat quiet as 2012 went on.
But Barron will be in a more familiar role for 2013 as he will see more playing time from inside the tackle box — a part of the field Barron played in college. He has already practiced there throughout camp.
“Yeah, I have been doing some of that,” Barron said. “It’s something I’m comfortable with. I did it for three years at (Alabama) so you know I’m most definitely comfortable with it and I feel like it’s going to help this team so I’m most definitely looking forward to doing it.”
Barron recorded his only interception last season in Tampa Bay’s Week 6 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. He ended his rookie campaign with 88 tackles and 10 pass breakups.
The move to a more familiar role may make Barron’s stats jump up as he will be involved in more action close to the line of scrimmage. At the same time, the 23-year old Barron acknowledges 2013 will not be the same as 2012 as far as his position goes and because of that, he still has some learning to do.
“I mean it’s some difference, but it’s actually not much for me,” Barron said. “At safety it is – but like I said I’m running at a new position – so you know I’m going in there and learning a whole new position. I have the safety thing down pat, but I’m still learning a new position.
“I mean it’s always good to get experience doing different things and I feel like that will help me be a more diverse player so that last year's experience that I had doing different things will most definitely help.”
In 2012, Barron was seen consistently alongside Ronde Barber as he learned the ropes. This year, Barber is not around to continue mentoring. But Barron is ready and he talks about the biggest lesson he took from last season.
“Preparation,” Barron said. “Preparation is key, you know it’s key in college too, but at the same time it’s a whole different level and in the NFL you’ve got those smart guys that have been doing this for years. I feel like that’s probably one of the biggest differences is preparation. The guys are way smarter at the next level so I feel like that’s something I learned from last year.”
Can his preparation translate to an improvement from last year?
“I think it varies and it depends on the person,” Barron said. “That can happen with some players, but other players it might be a bit different. Yeah, I most definitely feel like I’m better. I mean, I have a year of experience and you always get better with experience. You know how something is and it’s always better when you know something’s coming.”