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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Mark Barron outranked Morris Claiborne on Bucs' board



You've read for weeks that the Bucs were enamored with LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, something that just about every reliable source outside the organization has maintained.

It made lots of sense: The Bucs have a major need at the position, and Claiborne was seen as having the potential to be elite in the NFL. But with the first round of the NFL Draft in our rear-view mirror, we now can piece together a better picture of how the Bucs viewed Claiborne.

For starters, I've been told this morning that the Bucs did not have Claiborne ranked as high as most believed. Mark Barron, who the team selected with their seventh overall pick, was ranked higher on their draft board based on information coming out of One Buc Place.

That's easy to say now, after the fact. But here's why it's very likely true: The Bucs were moving ahead with their trade down from No. 5 to 7 (with Jacksonville) before the Vikings' No. 4 pick was revealed. It could not be assumed at that point that the Vikings would take USC tackle Matt Kalil, which they did. The other player the Vikings were considering was Claiborne, who they ultimately passed on. Something else to consider: When you include all teams that -- before and after the flurry of trades -- had an opportunity to draft Claiborne from No. 4 and beyond, the Vikings, Bucs, Jaguars and Rams, in a sense, passed on him.

If the Bucs had Claiborne clearly ranked higher than remaining players, the fourth-round pick they gained by trading down two spots wasn't nearly worth the risk. The Jaguars were clearly trading up to No. 5 for Blackmon, but they, too, were in the market for cornerback help and opted not to take Claiborne. The Rams were seen as a potential landing spot for Claiborne, but they chose to trade down from No. 6 with Dallas, who ultimately drafted him. And here's something else: The Cowboys never hosted Claiborne for a pre-draft visit, and he was only interviewed by a Dallas assistant at the NFL Combine in February.

Maybe all this should tell us something.

You can argue whether Barron is truly a better player than Claiborne, something that is in the eye of the beholder. That is a fair debate. But it does not appear the Bucs lost out on Claiborne. It seems, rather, they were able to pick up a guy they had targeted, picking up an extra pick in the process.

[Last modified: Friday, April 27, 2012 11:47am]


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