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The NFL Draft presents a fundamental debate of drafting philosophy, as every team has the chance to do one of two things: Take the best player available, or take the best player at a position of need. The Buccaneers will be squarely at the center of this debate during the 2013 NFL draft with the 13th overall pick, as the obvious position of need for Tampa Bay will likely lack a player worthy of selection. Our Fansided NFL Mock Drafter Josh Sanchez has taken the predictable path of choosing Johnthan Banks from Mississippi State, who is widely ranked in the 20’s and 30’s as an overall prospect. In other words, the Buccaneers would be reaching past up to 20 better prospects just to choose the position of obvious need. Sanchez is not alone in tabbing Banks to head to Tampa Bay, as many mock drafters around the blogosphere took that route.
Why on earth would the Buccaneers pass over 20 better players just to get a corner back?
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Mark Dominik would clearly love to have a future franchise cornerback, and there is one available in this draft. Dee Milliner of Alabama is almost guaranteed to be a star at defensive back in the NFL, and is likely to go as high as the top 5. The Buccaneers could consider trading up to get Milliner, and I would be perfectly happy with this decision. Milliner is strong, athletic, and played in such a great system in Tuscaloosa that he will be ready for the challenges of the NFL. However, if the Buccaneers remain at the 13th position in the draft, Milliner will not be available and the Buccaneers should not, and hopefully will not, take a corner back.
I have already presented a couple of options for lower round cornerbacks that the Buccaneers could take, in this article and this article. This ought to be the path the Buccaneers take, combined with the signing of a free agent with some experience to help rebuild at the cornerback position. Wasting a first round pick just to take a position of need and ignoring other excellent players can only lead to regrets. So what positions should the Buccaneers target? The Pewter Plank will have draft profiles of plenty of players as the draft approaches, but let’s consider the positions the Buccaneers could target.
Defensive Tackle: The Buccaneers may lose Roy Miller in the offseason, and may want to select a franchise player to line up alongside Gerald McCoy to form a dynamic and powerful inside presence on the defensive line. There is no shortage of talent at defensive tackle, with multiple players in the top 15. If the best player available is a defensive tackle, the Buccaneers would certainly be wise to add another interior lineman to the ranks.
Offensive Tackle: There are clearly options at tackle near the top of the draft, and with Jeremy Trueblood on his way out the door, the Buccaneers could do well by taking a tackle at number 13. Tampa Bay could select a strong left tackle and shift Donald Penn to the right, or simply select a player capable of playing right tackle. Either way, it would give the Buccaneers an incredible lineup up front on offense, when healthy. Penn, Nicks, Zuttah, Joseph, and a very good rookie would be an amazing set of players for the Buccaneers for years to come.
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Defensive End: Some of the best talent in this draft is at the defensive end position, and the Buccaneers will be very likely to have the option to select a pass rusher at number 13. With the questionable health of Da’Quan Bowers, and the possible loss of Michael Bennett, a solid pass rusher who can get consistent pressure on the quarterback would be a very valuable addition to the squad. This is the position where a player is likely to fall to the Buccaneers and become a great value, as a run on quarterbacks in the top 10 could push down more talented players to Tampa Bay.
Safety: There is one safety in the top 15, depending on what draft board you look at. If Kenny Vaccaro of Texas is available, he could be the perfect selection as a free safety. Ronde Barber is either going to be gone, or very old, and having a young star at the safety position might just be the best option for the Buccaneers.
The NFL draft is a very exciting time, and there will be plenty of changes in the draft board between now and the day of the draft. However, I don’t believe the Buccaneers would be making the best choice by blindly taking a corner back because they’re weak at the position. I could be proven wrong if a cornerback improves his draft stock, or if Milliner somehow falls to Tampa Bay, but let’s remember that the Buccaneers need talent just as much as they need a cornerback, and selecting the best player available is almost always the best choice in the NFL Draft.
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