NFL teams are constantly watching and evaluating the talent at the college level, in order to make the best selections in April’s Draft. After doing my own evaluation of the needs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I discuss how I would use Tampa Bay's picks in this year’s Draft.
1.5.5: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
With the return of Ronde Barber and the offseason acquisition of Eric Wright, I think Tampa Bay should focus on the running back position and draft Richardson, over cornerback Morris Claiborne.
While Richardson did well in 2009 and 2010 with 1,451 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, 2011 was clearly his breakout year. In 2011, Richardson ran for 100 yards or more in a game nine times, finishing the season with 1,679 yards along with 21 rushing touchdowns.
Richardson has great agility, speed and strength which helps him shed tacklers moving down the field, or fake out defenders in the open field. The only problem with selecting Richardson is that the Cleveland Browns could potentially pick Richardson with the fourth overall selection.
2.4.36: S Harrison Smith, Notre Dame
Tampa Bay’s top two safeties, Sean Jones and Corey Lynch, are still unsigned free agents, and Tampa Bay could be looking to add to their defense through the Draft. Smith is projected to go late in the first round or early in the second round, and would be a great pick for Tampa Bay.
Smith finished his career at Notre Dame with 186 solo tackles, 121 assisted tackles, 18 tackles for loss, three and a half sacks, seven interceptions, 35 passes defended, and two forced fumbles. Smith is a player that is hard hitting, and plays with lots of intensity. Additionally, his 4.57 40-yard dash time, and his 19 bench press reps at the Combine, show his quickness and strength.
3.5.68: DT Billy Wynn, Boise State
If Tampa Bay is going to take a risk on another defensive tackle in the Draft, it makes more sense to use a third round pick, rather than a first round pick.
Winn’s strengths are that he moves quickly after the snap of the ball, allowing him to stuff running backs, or chase down quarterbacks. Winn posted a 5.0 40-yard dash time at the Combine, and completed 24 reps on the bench press. Winn’s weaknesses are that he can be swallowed up by larger offensive linemen or a double team, and that he occasionally takes it easy on plays.
5.5.140: WR Dwight Jones, North Carolina
While the wide receiver is not an immediate area of concern, it could not hurt to potentially give another target to complement Vincent Jackson while trying to bolster a receiving group that featured no receivers with more than 800 receiving yards.
In 2011, Jones led the ACC in receptions with 85, led the ACC in receiving touchdowns with 12, and was third in the ACC in receiving yards with 1,196. Jones played three years at North Carolina accumulating 2,163 receiving yards, and 16 touchdowns. But two concerns with Jones are his lack of blocking in the running game and his being a non-factor in some games.
6.4.174: CB Charles Brown, North Carolina
In his four years at North Carolina Brown recorded 204 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, a sack, eight interceptions with 193 return yards and a touchdowns, and two forced fumbles. Brown also spent time on the kick and punt return teams his junior and senior years, and that experience could help him make the team, if he does not make it because of his defense.
7.5.212: OL Antoine McClain, Clemson
McClain is a good rush blocker and would add depth and help improve Tampa Bay’s poor running game from a season ago.
I think that if Tampa Bay made these picks in the Draft they would best address their personnel needs. However, I could be wrong, let me know what you think.