Bucs' long-term plan at cornerback uncertain
The Bucs, by just about every account, had a splendid draft, with general manager Mark Dominik wheeling and dealing both up and down and coach Greg Schiano using his experience in the college ranks as a key advantage.
Many of the team's draft choices have a chance for immediate impact, something that further suggests the Bucs did a solid job.
But if we had to nitpick, it's fair to wonder why the Bucs didn't address cornerback in a more substantial fashion. The Bucs took West Virginia's Keith Tandy in the sixth round, but there's some thought inside One Buc Place that he could ultimately become a safety.
"We’re going to give him a shot at corner and see how he does, because that’s what he did at West Virginia," Dominik said. Either way, we can't consider Tandy a sure thing as a sixth-round pick.
While the situation at cornerback is not currently a crisis, it will become one in the very near future. Here's why not drafting a cornerback earlier in the draft will become problematic:
- Aqib Talib still faces his legal issues (he goes to trial in June for an assault charge) and is in the final year of his contract. Given his history, it would seem pretty unlikely he would be re-signed, even if cleared of this charge.
- Ronde Barber is 37 and, while he has agreed to play this season, nothing can be assumed beyond 2012.
- E.J. Biggers, who has had plenty of ups and downs as the team's nickel back the past two years, is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
- Myron Lewis, entering his third season, showed nothing in 2011 that suggests he could be answer to the team's impending holes at the position.
Yes, the secondary should be improved with the addition of Alabama safety Mark Barron, the team's first-round pick. But it would have been nice if the Bucs would have addressed cornerback a bit earlier in a draft that was seen as having a deep crop of players at the position.
While it's hard to quibble with the team's decisions in the first two rounds -- when it selected Barron, Boise State running back Doug Martin and Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David -- the Bucs did have some interesting cornerback prospects on the board when they chose Najee Goode in the fifth round.
The savvy trades made by Dominik obviously came at a cost, with the Bucs lacking third- and fourth-round selections. That's not a criticism. It's an acknowledgment that the Bucs had limited opportunities to select a cornerback in the middle rounds. But the fact that they didn't do something more noteworthy at cornerback means it will likely be a position of great need after this season when Wright and Lewis could be the top two cornerbacks remaining on the roster.