As part of a surprising flurry of activity at the top of the first round, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted safety Mark Barron with the 7th overall selection of the 2012 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 26.
Yet, the lively action at One Buc Place did not end there. In a late trade, the Bucs acquired an additional first round pick, which the team employed to select running back Doug Martin with the night's 31st pick.
The Bucs entered the annual event in possession of only the evening's 5th pick. While many predicted the targeting of a defensive player, such as cornerback Morris Claiborne of LSU, some fans hoped for a chance to acquire dynamic running back Trent Richardson.
In the end, Tampa Bay did not select either Claiborne or Richardson. However, for a 4-12 team that lacks so much, General Manager Mark Dominik appears to have performed capably by securing both a quality defensive back and a well-regarded running back in the same first round.
The proceedings were altered before the announcements from Commissioner Roger Goodell even began. Less than an hour before the draft kicked off, the Cleveland Browns moved up to the 3rd overall spot to land the coveted Richardson.
This deal set in motion the pieces that soon led Tampa Bay to the trading block. Targeting a player believed available a few picks later, the Bucs swapped the 5th selection with the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for the 7th pick and an additional 4th rounder.
In that 7th overall spot, Tampa Bay used its top pick on a defensive player for the 3rd consecutive year. As a 4 year player for Alabama, Barron is widely considered the year's top safety and comes with the experience of competing for Nick Saban-led defense, which won 2 national championships during his tenure with the Crimson Tide.
Standing 6'2" and 218 pounds, Barron left his mark as a crushing hitter, specializing in stepping up and making tackles. Also excelling in pass coverage, the 22 year-old was a leader on a record-setting defense, which yielded a measly 8.8 points per game in the nation's best conference. In 2011, the safety from Mobile was recognized as a unanimous All-American.
While this pick was less predictable than that of Morris Claiborne, who was selected by the Dallas Cowboys one pick earlier, I applaud the franchise for seeking a strong defensive presence with new coach Greg Schiano's initial selection.
By surrendering the most points in the NFL during the 2011 season, it is clear that the Bucs' defense needs help everywhere. Acquiring a safety triggers the potential to have enormous impact, since Barron can assist both the team's pass coverage and its ability to stop the run.
Not content with a sole first rounder, Tampa Bay surprised viewers by sneaking back into the top round to acquire the 31st selection from the Denver Broncos. By giving up the 36th and 101st overall picks, the club selected 23 year-old Doug Martin of Boise State.
In plucking the night's second running back, the Bucs secured a player who appears to compliment LeGarrette Blount nicely. While Blount serves as a bruising back, who makes hay between the tackles, Martin is a quicker rusher with superior pass catching abilities. Additionally, scouts believe Martin will capably assist on blocking and special teams, both of which are deficiencies of Tampa Bay's current top dog.
Holding the evening's 32nd and final pick, many observers believed the New York Giants coveted the Boise State runner, who impressively accumulated 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2011.
Dominik's aggressive move came with a relatively minor price and assured the club of getting the player it believed was needed. With 2 trades in 1 night, the pick certainly put a stamp on a pro-active first day of the 2012 draft for Tampa Bay.
Yahoo! Sports, RollTide.com, ESPN.com, RotoWorld.com, NFL.com.
More by Jeff Briscoe from Yahoo! Sports:
Jeff Briscoe is a writer who covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. A loyal Tampa Bay Bucs fan, he co-hosts the Florida-based radio show, The Sports Train.