With the 24th pick of Pride of Detroit's 2012 NFL mock draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Alabama safety Mark Barron. Northern Lite is serving as the Steelers' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
My final decision for the Steelers pick at No. 24 came down to two excellent choices: Mark Barron and Dont'a Hightower, both of the esteemed Alabama defense. Now, really I was hoping that Dontari Poe would be undervalued in our draft and would fall to the Steelers pick, but that was a pipe dream. After Poe on my big board came the offensive linemen like Jonathan Martin and the giant Cordy Glenn. With none of these players falling into my lap I was left with a far more difficult decision.
I chose between two superstar talents from one of the most dominant defenses in college football. Faced with this predicament, I did what any good GM should do. I went with the best player available. Mark Barron is found in the top 15 in many experts' mock drafts, while the same could not be said of Dont'a Hightower. With the NFL becoming a pass happy league, the value of safeties has increased almost exponentially. Pittsburgh already has two great starting safeties in Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, but both are over 30. They need to get another safety in immediately to start learning this defense.
Now, I do realize that they have a bigger hole in their LB corps that needs to be addressed, but I believe that this can come later on in the draft or in FA. Quite simply, Mark Barron is the No. 1-ranked safety on EVERYONE'S board and that alone should put him ahead of Hightower. I am not a die-hard Steelers fan, but it will be a long, long time before I forget what Tim Tebow did to them in the playoffs this year. (Sorry, Steeler fans.)
At 6'2" and 218 lbs., Mark Barron is the prototypical safety. He has the size and frame you look for, long enough to cover big WRs and TEs, while still being able to step into the box and stuff the run. Averaging a mid-4.5-second 40-yard dash, Barron also has plenty of speed to cover open space.
When watching Alabama, Barron jumps out and is all over the field. He makes tackles in run support and always seems to be in the right spot in pass coverage. He is a big safety who may be the hardest-hitting player at his position in the 2012 NFL Draft class.
While Mark is known more as a run-stuffing safety, his coverage skills do not disappoint. In fact, he became a starting safety for the Crimson Tide defense in his sophomore year and racked up seven interceptions, leading the SEC. His solid play and big-time play-making skills make Mark Barron an excellent pick in the first round and a great value for the Steelers with the No. 24 pick of the draft.
Check out the 2012 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.