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  1. #1
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    Alex Barron: Top pick, fast track

    Alex Barron: Top pick, fast track
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Apr. 30 2005

    A little more than a year ago, Rams general manager Charley Armey was watching
    film of several University of Miami defenders in preparation for the draft.

    On one particular tape, the Hurricanes were playing Florida State. After
    watching Seminoles offensive tackle Alex Barron destroy Miami linebackers
    Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams on play after play, Armey turned to Rams'
    scouting assistant Brad Holmes and said, "Is this your cousin?"

    Affirmative.

    Holmes, in his second year with the Rams, was a pass rusher of some repute a
    few years back for North Carolina A&T. Before his junior season in 2000, a
    season in which he would register 8 1/2 sacks, Holmes decided to see what
    cousin Alex had as a pass blocker.

    Barron already had built a football reputation at Wilkinson High in Orangeburg,
    S.C. One college recruiting service, Prep Star, had him rated as the third-best
    offensive lineman in the country.

    Holmes and his cousin went out in Barron's backyard for some one-on-one pass
    rush drills.

    "I couldn't get around him," Holmes said.

    Not many can, which explains why the Rams made Barron their first-round pick,
    No. 19 overall, in the NFL draft last week. Coach Mike Martz wasted little time
    with Barron.

    "We're handing him the starting job at right tackle," Martz said Friday. "It's
    his."

    Then, in an unusual move, Martz made a request to the media at Rams rookie
    minicamp.

    "The one thing I'd ask all of you with Alex is to have patience," Martz said.
    "Because he's going to have some tough moments. But he is our right tackle.
    We're making that commitment to him. We're trying to get him ready as quickly
    as we can.

    "I know he's going to be scrutinized closely. I know he'll be nervous. This is
    a big deal to him. ... Bear in mind, two, three years from now, I think we'll
    have a real special player."

    Barron was a two-time consensus All-American at Florida State and was among
    three finalists for the Outland Trophy last season. But Barron did not expect
    after getting drafted to be named a starter in April.

    "I was overwhelmed by it," the soft-spoken Barron said Saturday. "I was kind of
    shocked a little bit. But they believe I can get the job done, and I'm just
    going to try to do my best to help the team."

    Barron has many physical attributes that separate him from the pack. But it
    begins and ends with his amazing wingspan. From one outstretched arm to the
    other, the tape measure reads 7 feet, 6 inches. That, NBA fans, equals the
    height of Houston Rockets center Yao Ming.

    "I have a couple of friends at Florida State that kind of joke with me about
    that a little bit," Barron said.

    That kind of reach can be a big help around the house.

    "Top shelf. Top of the refrigerator, and all that," Barron said.

    For opposing pass rushers, that kind of reach can be a nightmare.

    "I don't know of anybody with that type of reach," said Martz. "That's
    significant in terms of pass blocking if you're on the edge. If I can get my
    hands on you, it's just like (putting) your hand on the head of your little
    brother while he's swinging. It's that type of deal. It frustrates the pass
    rushers with the shorter arms, and they can't into you."

    Now, throw in the fact that Barron is a lean 6-7, 320 pounds, and runs a 40 in
    the sub 4.9-second area. It's a scary set of skills.

    "The thing that sticks out is he's just such a tremendous athlete for a really
    large person," said John Benton, who coaches Rams offensive linemen along with
    John Matsko. "The things he can do, most big linemen can't do."

    On the football field, this manifests itself in Barron's ability to get out in
    space and block linebackers several yards off the line of scrimmage. He has the
    agility to sustain blocks on the move against shorter, faster defenders. When
    he gets those long arms locked onto a defensive end, it's over. When he gets
    off-balance and a pass rusher starts to get around him, Barron has the
    quickness to recover.

    Barron's father was his high school coach at Wilkinson. His grandfather used to
    coach high school football in Indiana and South Carolina.

    He has two uncles who played in the NFL: cornerback Luther Bradley, who played
    for Detroit from 1978-81; and offensive tackle Melvin Holmes, who played for
    Pittsburgh from 1971-73. And, of course, cousin Brad.

    But Barron isn't without critics. Some have termed him an enigma, a player who
    is too laid-back on the football field and takes plays off. Some say he needs
    more aggressiveness. Some say he needs more lower-body strength to combat the
    bull rush. Or more strength and bulk, period.

    (More than one Rams coach wondered out loud if Barron was truly 320 pounds when
    he showed up for minicamp. He looks much leaner. Sure enough, when Barron got
    on the scale, he weighed 320.)

    Barron says the criticism doesn't bother him.

    "I don't really take offense to it," he said. "I know and I believe that when I
    step on the field, I give 100 percent all the time."

    Nonetheless, such concerns among NFL teams may have contributed to the fact
    that Barron was still available for the Rams at No. 19 overall. Original
    projections had Barron rated as the top tackle in the draft and a possible top
    10 pick.

    Barron concedes he was "a little bit" disappointed to last until No. 19. But
    such concerns quickly faded when he arrived at Rams Park for minicamp. He is
    getting a crash course on NFL football. Everything from technique work to the
    wide array of Rams pass-blocking schemes to the peculiarities of playing right
    tackle.

    Barron played the majority of the time on the left side at Florida State.

    By Saturday afternoon, Barron's head was spinning. According to fellow rookie
    Claude Terrell, an offensive guard from New Mexico, Rams blockers were being
    exposed to 35 pass protection blocking sets this weekend. For comparison's
    sake, Terrell said he had five pass-blocking sets to learn at New Mexico.

    "There's so much more you've got to learn," Barron said. "So many different
    things you've got to do. There's some great teaching here, so I'm just hoping
    to grasp some type of concept so I can help the team."

    Obviously, the Rams hope that takes place sooner rather than later.

    "When he has issues in protection, it's just a matter of technique," Martz
    said. "It's not a question of his aggressiveness, or his toughness. When he
    gets in a jam, it's all centered around footwork and pass sets, and punch, and
    all those kinds of things that our coaches will resolve.

    "What he's capable of doing is playing at the highest level physically. He's a
    long ways from that. He needs to learn an awful lot. Can he get there?
    Absolutely. Will he? I don't know. If he does, then we've got one of the better
    ones in the league."


    Alex Barron: By The Numbers

    Armspan: 7' 6"
    Height: 6-7
    Weight: 320
    Speed: 40 in 4.9 seconds

    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Four
    Rams Discussion Right at Your Fingertips!



  2. #2
    RealRam's Avatar
    RealRam is offline Registered User
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    Calling Jackie Slater!

    Well, like I keep saying: let's get Jackie Slater to visit us this preseason.

  3. #3
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    Re: Alex Barron: Top pick, fast track

    Nice post Nick this guy is gonna rock.:tough: :ramlogo: :ramlogo: :ramlogo:
    My heart beats crazy and my blood runs wild

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