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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Mel Kiper Has Cowboys Taking Mark Barron In First

In the latest mock draft from ESPN Insider Mel Kiper, the godfather of draft prognostication has the Dallas Cowboys taking Alabama S Mark Barron in the first round:

Record: 8-8Mark Barron, S, Alabama

Dallas was aggressive in getting a solid corner in free agency with the addition of Brandon Carr, but they still need help at safety to shore up the pass defense. I don't think another corner is out of the question at this spot, but Barron is the best safety in the draft, and the Cowboys can't go wrong if he's available. I can also see Dallas going offensive line here, as that unit could use some help, but Barron makes sense.

The Cowboys are reportedly very high on several players from Alabama, with Jason Garrett attending the Crimson Tide's Pro Day in March.

Barron is a smart and instinctive player who was a standout in his time in Tuscaloosa. He racked up 66 tackles, including 5 for loss, as well as 2 interceptions and 1 sack as a senior, leading a historically great Alabama defense to a national championship.

However, he lacks top-line speed, running a 4.56 40 at the Combine, which could be a problem in the modern pass-happy NFL where the ability of safeties to read and recover deep down the field is paramount.

A look at Barron's performance in Alabama's regular season game of the century against LSU:

For the latest news and rumors surrounding the Dallas Cowboys draft plans, check back with SB Nation Dallas' exclusive storystream as well as Blogging The Boys.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.