TAMPA — As the football season ends, we now move towards breaking down the next most exciting thing in the NFL, the Draft.
Once again the Buccaneers have a top 5 pick but for the first time since perhaps drafting Cadillac Williams in 2005, the Bucs are in a no-lose position at the fifth overall slot.
The Bucs are selecting fifth overall in a draft that features five lights out prospects. Even if Morris Claiborne is drafted before Tampa is on the clock, the Bucs will walk away with a piece that improves their team unless, of course, the Glazers try to do too much and fumble.
All these scenarios are assuming Andrew Luck goes first overall.
This is best case scenario where all the pieces fall in place and Morris Claiborne is on the board when the Bucs are on the clock. The fourth overall pick won’t even be done being announced and the Bucs will have their card in. Claiborne is without a doubt the numerbo uno guy on the Bucs board. But every time the Bucs have had a guy on their board that fills an immediate need, he’s been drafted right before their eyes (and selection). See: Calvin Johnson and Ndamakong Suh.
In scenario 2, Claiborne is gone (as he will be in all subsequent scenarios). But all is not lost. Tampa has four teams drafting ahead of them who all have their own needs and own agendas. In this scenario Claiborne goes second to the Rams and the Vikings go with their left tackle obsession in Matt Kalil leaving two guys on the board. The Browns take a sigh of relief that Robert Griffin III is still available at four and draft him. This leaves the Bucs with Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State. This isn’t the best case scenario but when you have an explosive wide out option to add to Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn and Preston Parker how is that a worst case scenario?
This is the second best scenario for the Buccaneers if Claiborne is off the board when the are on the clock. Luck goes first to the Colts, trade with Cleveland who then takes Robert Griffin III and the Vikings cave into fans pressure and select Justin Blackmon third overall. This leaves St. Louis to draft Claiborne at four allowing Matt Kalil, arguably the best offensive tackle prospect since Jake Long to fall to Tampa at five. This would allow the Bucs to phase out (or just use money by cutting DOnald Penn and eating his salary) and then allowing Kalil to bookend Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood in protecting Josh Freeman. It’s a long shot but it’s almost a better pick then Claiborne if you consider Josh Freeman the absolute, end all be all future of the franchise. This could be a scenario where the Bucs get Claiborne if St. Louis take Kalil.
This is probably the messiest, close thing to worst case (and most improbable) scenario for the Bucs. In this scenario, Luck goes first, the Rams take Claiborne second Minnesota goes with Blackmon or Kalil and the Browns feel comfortable with Colt McCoy and draft Blackmon or vise versa. Some variation of the aforementioned pick selection would transpire and leave the Bucs in a soggy place. This would be a situation where the Bucs are left with Robert Griffin III and puts them in an obvious trade down spot. I shouldn’t really call it a worst case scenario — it’s just the Meg Ryan pick of the bunch. It’s not sexy but it’s better then settling for worse and can be very beneficial. Cleveland is the hot team to get RGIII but if they pass, Washington will want him and they pick sixth. The only real trade the Bucs could make is with Jacksonville but they might not yet decide to jump ship on Blaine Gabbert. Miami picks eighth and may want to trade with Tampa but beyond that it’s a crap shoot. The only team outside the Top 10 that would think about trading with Tampa if RGIII is available is possibly Seattle. Washington won’t trade up with Tampa because they know the Bucs won’t take a quarterback. This would be the least exciting of the scenarios and would fit perfectly with the anti-climactic atmosphere that is hovering over Tampa at the moment. The Bucs wouldn’t lose with this scenario because they could easily get two number ones and a package of late round picks.