IRVING, Texas –As the hours ticked away toward the first round back in April, the mock-drafters had reached a near consensus on the Cowboys' selection. They might need to trade up, some thought, but it was almost common knowledge the team would target Alabama safety Mark Barron.
Of course, the same analysts probably had cornerback Morris Claiborne off the board in the first three or four picks, so when he began to slip, it changed the entire complexion of the draft, the Cowboys trading up eight spots to select him at No. 6 overall. The team admitted back in April that Claiborne was the second-rated player overall on its big board, and the highest-rated defensive player. But the belief is Barron was No. 2.
As it turned out, the Cowboys' evaluation was correct, as Barron came off the board one spot after Claiborne, at No. 7 overall to Tampa Bay.
"I don't want to get into our board, but we were really impressed by Mark Barron," Jason Garrett said. "We know the Alabama program well and we know the guys who coached down there, and we spent a lot of time evaluating their players … and Mark was one of them. He was a guy that showed up, really, both against the run and against the pass in every game that we watched in college.
"He played a lot of big games. They won the National Championship down there and he was a big part of that. He was a guy everyone in that program pointed to as one of the leaders."
It's no surprise that Barron is already starting for Greg Schiano, playing alongside veteran Ronde Barber. Often playing closer to the line of scrimmage, he's been credited with 13 tackles through two games.
"He's a big, physical guy. He's a good athlete. We spent a lot of time with him prior to the draft, we actually had him in here. I went down to his workout at Alabama. He didn't work out at the Combine, so we spent a little extra time with him. We thought he might be one of the guys available to us. It ended up he was taken by Tampa at the seventh pick of the draft. So, highly regarded by a lot of people and it's easy to see why. He's a good football player."