Jan 9, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; LSU Tigers cornerback Morris Claiborne (17) closes in on Alabama Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson (3) during the BCS National Championship game at the Louisiana Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

Are the Bucs Leaning Towards Trading Down?

As we inch closer and closer to the draft, the discussion is becoming more and more about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the fifth overall selection. There is little drama about who’s going 1-2 and it can be argued that the top four selections are all but sealed up.

National pundits are high on the Bucs taking Trent Richardson with the fifth overall pick. (Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE)

Andrew Luck is going to be the first overall pick in the draft. This is going to be a case where he is signed the night before the draft begins. Heck, We might have the first two selections signed because there is little to no doubt that the Redskins are selecting Robert Griffin III with the second pick. They traded up last month with St. Louis to get the pick and gave away the farm to do so.

After that the Vikings are going to take Matt Kalil if they want to win, or will take Justin Blackmon if they want to fit in. The Browns will most likely take the left over the Vikings pass on to protect/help Colt McCoy.

That brings us to pick No. 5: the Buccaneers.

The consensus in Tampa is that they will take Morris Claiborne out os LSU. We’d make a crack about his Wonderlic score but we’re mature.

But the National consensus is becoming more and more fractured as we get closer to the draft. Mel Kiper Jr. is staying stedfast in his position that the Bucs should and will draft Alabama running back Trent Richardson. The idea seemed preposterous earlier but the Kiper spin machine has us now thinking it makes sense.

Partially because it actually does.

Other who don’t have the Bucs taking Claiborne or ones that did but are changing their minds after his Wonderlic score are suggesting the Bucs trade down. Where the Bucs trade down to ranges from the bottom of the top 10 to the middle of the first round and selecting everything from a tackle to a linebacker.

The idea of trading down hit a low point when Washington ended the debate about where Robert Griffin III would go when they traded up to two. The Bucs were hoping he’d be there at five so they could make the killing St. Louis made in terms of picks. But not all is lost.

The Draft spin doctors olive their quarterbacks and now that the drama seemed over, they needed another protégée.

Enter: Ryan Tannehill from Texas A&M.

Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill is one of many trade chips the Bucs might have at the fifth overall pick in April 26th's Draft

He makes this a win-win situation for the Bucs and makes the fifth selection valuable again to those below them.

Now no matter what, the Bucs do not lose in the first round initially. If Claiborne is there, draft him. If the Browns take Claiborne after the Vikings take Kalil, draft Richardson or trade down to a team that wants him. If the Browns take Richardson, that means Claiborne is there. Is Claiborne and Richardson go 2-3, draft Kalil or trade down. If the Browns or Vikings take Tannehill, that leaves either Claiborne, Kalil, Richardson, Justin Blackmon or a trade on the table for the Bucs.

Teams are getting high on Tannehill, especially teams that need a quarterback. If he’s there at five you could be looking at a team that lost out big in the hunt for a quarterback in free agency and has irresponsible management who will overpay to trade up.

I’m looking directly in the direction of South Beach on this one.

It all rests on Miami however. They might see that no team between them and Tampa needs a quarterback and may call Tampa’s bluff that teams want the fifth pick. Seattle would have been an option to trade up but they signed Matt Flynn. There are three teams that may trade with Tampa to get Tannehill but it’s a huge maybe.

The Jaguars pick seventh and although they have Blaine Gabbert, they may want a backup plan with new management in town. However the only motivation for them to trade up would be if they thought Miami was going to trade up and vice versa.

The Kansas City Cheifs may want to trade up for Tannehill and a dark horse candidate to trade up is the Dallas Cowboys who may or may not finally be fed up with Tony Romo and want a homegrown Texas boy to lead the new era of Cowboys football.

But Tannehill is not the only chance for a trade. Teams like Trent Richardson and would want to trade to get him. Teams really like cornerbacks and you could see the Rams try to bribe the Bucs out of picking him (my guess is they’re the team that leaked the Wonderlic score for Claiborne). If Justin Blackmon is there, everyone will want him. Right now with the success of Victor Cruz, the notion is you need a big No. 1 target to win in this league. Blackmon will draw heavy interest if he’s available at five.

Basically the Bucs can’t lose, as I stated a few months ago. No matter what happens, they win. Either they get a talented blue chip prospect or they get a load of later round draft picks to snag talent. No one knows what Tampa is going to do, even the Bucs aren’t positive given all the options that are available.

We won’t know until April 26th what the Bucs do, but they have options. Whether it be Claiborne, Richardson, Blackmon, Kalil or a trade, there is no losing right off the bat for the Bucs in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

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