Buccaneers listed as 'ideal landing spot' for another top cornerback in NFL Draft

All signs keep pointing toward Todd Bowles being a very happy man on draft day.
Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

The NFL Draft is right around the corner, which means it's almost time for Jason Licht to cook up another winning class for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He's hit more than he's missed since taking over in 2014, with Mike Evans being the first player he drafted and Calijah Kancey being the most recent first round pick Licht's made. That's what you call sustained success, something that has the Bucs in a position to continue competing and building a bright future in the aftermath of the Tom Brady era.

Not many people thought that would be the case. Last year the Bucs were expected to be picking near the top of the draft but instead are snug in the back half of the first round thanks to a nice little playoff run. Just because Tampa Bay is picking so late doesn't mean they won't have a shot at top talent, something that continues to be hinted at whenever potential picks are floated by experts.

Buccaneers listed as 'ideal landing spot' for another top cornerback in NFL Draft

ESPN tried to find ideal landing spots for 20 top prospects, and the Bucs were paired with Iowa defensive star Cooper DeJean. This isn't the first time we've heard his name linked to Tampa Bay and it's starting to feel like an if there's smoke, there's fire situation at No. 26 overall.

"A natural playmaker who had seven career interceptions and three defensive scores, DeJean also would bring All-Pro upside to the Bucs as a punt returner. DeJean had six punt returns of 20 or more yards and one touchdown in college," Bowen wrote.

DeJean isn't the most obvious prospect the Bucs could target in the first round because cornerback isn't talked about hardly as much as offensive line help. Even when defense has been mentioned for Tampa Bay, the focus has been on edge rushers who might fall rather than secondary players.

That being said, the dots aren't hard to connect for the Bucs drafting a cornerback first. Last year Jason Licht zigged and drafted Calijah Kancey when everyone expected a zag toward quarterback or offensive tackle.

DeJean also helped fill an underrated need for the Bucs. For as much that gets made about needing to rebuild the offensive line or find edge rush help, Tampa Bay needs to make sure its secondary doesn't take another step back. Things got shaky last season and the offseason started with Carlton Davis III getting traded. Todd Bowles loves depth, and adding to that position group makes a lot of sense.

Just like last year there's expected to be a run on offensive lineman early in the first round, which could put the Bucs in a situation where they can wait to address the position with a mid-round pick and go for a top player at another position of need instead. That could be DeJean or it could be someone like Alabama's Kool-Aid McKinstry, who has also been linked to the Bucs.

It's all a potentially fruitless guessing game, as there might not be a GM who plays his cards closer to the chest than Jason Licht.

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