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Saints Offense Has New Nemesis in Mark Barron

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Tampa Bay's first round selection of Alabama free safety Mark Barron should definitely enhance the twice-a-year competition between the Buccaneers and Saints. Not that it has been lacking.

Despite their recent string of underachieving seasons, the Bucs have been a nemesis of the Saints, being one of the few teams to hand them multiple losses over the last three years. However, the addition of Barron to the Buccaneers roster could lead to one of the greatest matchups in the NFL over the next 10 years when he and Saints tight end Jimmy Graham go against each other, as well as the upcoming battles he will have with Marques Colston.

While LSU fans may disagree, Barron was the best player on the best defense in college football last season. Racing up from his safety position at the speed of light, the 6-2, 213 pounder delivered blow after blow to running backs as soon as they hit the line of scrimmage, epitomizing more than any other play, the physical and attacking nature of Nick Saban's Alabama defense.

As a stalwart run-stopper, Barron draws comparions to another Crimson Tide safety Saints fans are familiar with: Roman Harper. However, unlike Harper, Barron has shown to be much better in coverage, at least on the college level. During his first season as a starter in 2009, Barron lead the SEC with seven interceptions.

With his run-stuffing nature and ball hawking skills, Barron appears to be a southern version of Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu, as they both also have dreads and are very soft spoken in a manner that projects a personality the complete opposite of their style of play.

From a positional standpoint, the Saints will provide Barron his greatest challenge. The Saints are the NFL's offensive version of what Barron's Crimson Tide defense is to college football and the common denominator between the two is: attack, attack, attack. I guess what I am trying to say is they are on opposite ends of the same spectrum, but I'm no Frank Deford here, so maybe that's not what I meant.

Barron will definitely get his full share of the Saints receiving corps but the battle with Jimmy Graham I find most intriguing. Like Barron, Graham has proven to be a complete ball hawk, constantly ripping the ball out of defenders hands in tight coverage in a way that demonstrates his basketball background.

The combination of speed and size that both Graham and Barron have should also make up plenty of interesting battles between the two. At 6-6 and 260 pounds, Graham's size has made him an easy target for Drew Brees to spot, yet he also has speed comparable to a wideout, allowing him to stretch the field and also be a deep threat. Likewise, Barron may be four inches shorter than Graham, but he has the speed of a cornerback, making it harder for Graham to break free from, in addition to a vertical reach making it more difficult for Graham to snag the pass.

Barron and Graham will make their introduction on October 21st when the Saints visit Tampa. Hopefully the Saints won't lose a coach on this trip from Graham getting knocked into them on the sideline. We are going to be a little short on them already.