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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Latest indication that cornerback is no slam dunk for Bucs' first-round pick



For those Bucs fans who are pining for or expecting the team to select a cornerback in the first round of April’s NFL draft, this will be a bit sobering.

Those of you who have been paying attention to the draft won’t be surprised by this, but ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper’s first mock draft, published today, features just two cornerbacks in the first round.

That speaks volumes about the lack of first-round caliber talent at the position in this year’s class, although there are numerous options from the second round through the middle rounds.

Kiper projects Alabama standout Dee Milliner to be taken fourth overall by the Eagles. He’s pretty much a consensus top 10 pick and likely won’t be around when the Bucs select 13th overall. The other cornerback in Kiper’s first-round projections is Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes, penciled in as the No. 28 pick by the Broncos. He’s not seen by most as a candidate to be drafted as early as 13th, but the dearth of top-end talent at cornerback might impact where he ultimately is selected.

For the Bucs, Kiper has them picking Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree, an athletic, playmaking linebacker who was suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season.

When he played, Ogletree was a force, making plays that showed his range and speed. Where Ogletree will play in the NFL is up for debate, but he’s able to play both inside and outside linebacker. The Bucs could conceivably use help at the position, given the uncertain health status of strong-side starter Quincy Black. And given the emphasis on competition, maybe the Bucs would be open to making middle linebacker Mason Foster earn his spot in 2013.

It’s all hypothetical for now, but it’s something to think about nonetheless. The overarching point here, however, is the selection of a cornerback in the first round (despite the Bucs 32nd-place finish in pass defense) is hardly a slam dunk.

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 1:38pm]


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