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NFL Draft: Should the Chargers Trade Up for Mark Barron?

Mark Barron #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide intercepts a pass.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Mark Barron #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide intercepts a pass. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Mark Barron is the 2012 NFL Draft's best Strong Safety prospect. He is coming out of the University of Alabama. These are things that you should know, since we at BFTB are in love with Mr. Barron. Apparently, the San Diego Chargers are also enamored with him in a way that I haven't seen since before the Ryan Mathews selection.

This makes sense, actually. If you look at the free agents that A.J. Smith and the Chargers front office brought in, they've been building towards this Barron pick. Do you really think they're going to let 30 year old Atari Bigby, who hasn't started a game since 2009, be their starting Strong Safety? Not likely.

Do you think they're going to trust undersized Darrell Stuckey to be a productive and healthy starter at Strong Safety? Oh, okay. Well, that's kind of a silly opinion, but I'll follow that up by asking who is going to be the backup Free Safety then? The Safety situation that makes the most sense is Bigby and Stuckey as the backups at SS and FS, respectively, and Eric Weddle and a first-round draft pick as the starters.

The shared thought process of the people that get paid to know this stuff is that both the Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys are looking at Mark Barron and David DeCastro. If the Cowboys take Barron, the Chargers will take DeCastro 4 picks later, and if they take DeCastro....well, you get it. I don't have to explain it to you like you're children.

So, for a second, let's assume that if the Chargers want Mark Barron as badly as they do. Let's also assume that to draft him they would need to trade with the Cardinals and move from the 18th pick to the 13th pick. Should they do it?

After looking at Wonko's breakdown of the draft value chart yesterday, we can conclude that the Chargers would need to give up their 1st, 3rd and 4th round picks to get back the Arizona Cardinals' 1st round pick ahead of the Cowboys.

Here's what the Chargers have been able to get in the 3rd and 4th rounds in the last few seasons:

  • Vincent Brown (2011)
  • Shareece Wright (2011)
  • Donald Butler (2010)
  • Darrell Stuckey (2010)
  • Louis Vasquez (2009)
  • Vaughn Martin (2009)
  • Tyronne Green (2009)

That's 4 guys that have started games and 6 guys that could potentially start games in 2012. Those rounds have equated to more hits than misses for A.J. Smith in recent years. If the Bolts were to give up those picks to get Barron, they'd be taking quite the risk. However, if it doesn't work out it's likely that A.J. Smith, Norv Turner, John Pagano and many others will be out of a job. So if they believe that Barron is that missing piece to their near-complete defensive puzzle, it might be worth the risk.

As far as what the improvement would be from Bigby or Stuckey to Barron, the biggest thing is size. Both Stuckey and Bigby are listed at 5'11", with Stuckey weighing in at 205 lbs and Bigby weighing 213 lbs. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Barron checked in a full 2 inches taller than that and matched Bigby at 213 lbs, which is damn near prototypical Strong Safety size. Barron's collegiate stats were through the roof during his final 3 seasons when he was the starter at SS. If his draft stock has taken any hit at all, it is mostly due to him recovering from offseason hernia/shoulder surgery (he's near 100% recovered now).