Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds has reported that the Buccaneers do not see Xavier Rhodes, Desmond Trufant, Johnthan Banks, or any other second tier rookie cornerback as worthy of a first round selection, and have only Dee Milliner as a first round corner on their draft board. This may come as a bit of a surprise considering the strong offseason performances of many of the corners in the draft class, but that might just be the reason behind the rankings.
The Buccaneers are likely basing their rankings more strongly on game tape and less on workouts in the offseason. If that’s the case, the rise of Rhodes and Trufant was unlikely reflected on the Tampa Bay draft board, since both players have seen their stock rise since the season ended. Milliner was widely considered the best corner before and during the season, and is therefore the Buccaneers top target. Trufant and Rhodes both had something to prove this offseason, and that might have downgraded them in the Buccaneers’ front office. This likely means the second, third, and fourth round will see the Buccaneers targeting cornerbacks such as Jamar Taylor from Boise State, Jordan Poyer from Oregon State, and Logan Ryan from Rutgers.
The original report mentions Sean Smith, Brent Grimes, and Greg Toler as possible free agent targets, all of whom ranked well on my free agent cornerback power rankings. With over 40 million dollars to spend after the likely jettisoning of Quincy Black and Eric Wright, spending up to 15 million dollars on two cornerbacks would not be out of the question. Combine two veteran cornerbacks and a solid rookie corner with the potential return of E.J. Biggers and the continued growth of Leonard Johnson, and the Buccaneers would have a much more stable situation at cornerback in 2013.
If the Buccaneers don’t spend the 13th selection on a cornerback, look for them to pursue a defensive tackle to replace Roy Miller, a pass rusher like Bjoern Werner of FSU, an offensive tackle like Lane Johnson of Oklahoma, or trade down and target a tight end like Tyler Eifert from Notre Dame. Not being stuck on selecting a corner opens up a world of options for the Buccaneers, who would suddenly lack in needs and have the ability to draft for depth and promise rather than to fill the depth chart.
We will know much more about the Buccaneers draft situation once free agency has kicked off, but don’t be surprised to see Tampa Bay making big moves early in the free agent period, which starts at the end of this week. Stay tuned to The Pewter Plank for all the info you need on the Bucs this offseason.