One of the bigger surprises from the 2019 NFL draft was that the team did not walk away with a safety. They have Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds, but this is a nickel and dime NFL and three safeties are going to see the field, even if it is only for a few crucial snaps.
The team added Mark Barron, who has experience as a safety and a linebacker. In looking for a dime player, the hybrid between linebacker and safety is what you are looking for, so it would make sense that Barron can fit the bill. Barron will get snaps, but he is aging and moved closer to the line of scrimmage because he is better against the run than the pass.
He was looked at as Devin Bush protection. If they missed on Bush, at least they had Barron. Still, their faith in Barron screams loudly in their eagerness to pull the trigger on Bush. If Barron can help Bush grow, can take a few snaps beside him and can help with a few dime snaps, he is worth his price.
However, the Steelers may have a more capable longterm replacement in Marcus Allen. After the NFL draft, Mike Tomlin was asked about sub-package football. He responded by bringing up Allen unprovoked.
I know that we have spent a lot of time grooming and talking about the development of Marcus Allen. As a guy that is going into his second year that should be able to compete for a linebacker position. So, it’s not only these men, but also the development of guys that have been in our program that makes us feel good about the direction of that overall subject.
Notice that he said linebacker. He meant what he said and not many thought twice about the statement because what he said was true. The Steelers are going to view Allen as a linebacker, a dime linebacker.
Of course, Allen is anything but a lock to take on the role. He has played on the defensive side for 18 snaps, getting 17 in a loss against the Los Angelas Chargers. Of course, that is the game that Keith Butler is now famous for making the wrong personnel decision.
The reality was that if Jon Bostic was on the field, the Chargers would throw, and on Allen’s 17 snaps, they ran right at him. This is why they trade up for Devin Bush.
Allen is going to have to put some more muscle on, and is going to have to be stronger against the run. However, the fact of the matter is that while Barron is listed as 230 pounds in the NFL, he weighed 213 pounds at the NFL combine. Marcus Allen weighed 215 pounds.
Barron went from safety with passing game limitations to a legitimate box linebacker. A lot of his strengths come off as weaknesses early into Allen’s career, and Barron should be the perfect veteran presence.
Barron was signed to start at linebacker, but Devin Bush was drafted to replace him and will likely do so by week one.
Barron is a candidate to play dime snaps, but in a perfect world, the Steelers see so much progression in their second-year safety that they just have Barron as a luxury.