Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs (likely) will wait to fill needs at draft

TAMPA — Not having a first-round draft pick won't stop the music tonight at the Bucs' draft party at Raymond James Stadium.

Anticipation has been replaced with the elation of knowing the team shipped the 13th overall selection and one other pick to the Jets for three-time All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, who will be introduced during the free event.

Revis, 27, is far superior to any player the Bucs could have selected. And with the need at cornerback covered, general manager Mark Dominik can plug other holes.

"It allows us to have more flexi­bility," Dominik said. "It doesn't hold you as hostage to cornerback, which, obviously, everybody knew that was a position of need for this football team. So I think it actually expands our draft board … starting with pick No. 43."

Tampa Bay enters the three-day draft with seven picks. But unless the Bucs trade into the first round, their first selection won't be until the 11th pick of the second round. They also have a third-rounder, two fourth-rounders, a fifth-rounder and two sixth-rounders.

Dominik has not ruled out moving back into the first round, similar to what he did last season to take running back Doug Martin at No. 31.

"We walk into this draft class with … an extra fourth and an extra sixth," Dominik said. "And I think that allows you the ammunition to move around and be fluid if you want to."

One year ago, Dominik and coach Greg Schiano hit the trifecta with the first three picks. Martin, safety Mark Barron and linebacker Lavonte David started every game.

The 2013 draft lacks pizazz. West Virginia's Geno Smith might be the only quarterback taken in the first round. It's possible a running back won't come off the board until the second, unless it's Alabama's Eddie Lacy. But there is depth on the offensive and defensive line.

Dominik is right. The Bucs might be spectators tonight. But they still have much work to do.

Defensive line

The Bucs lost two starters to free agency, end Michael Bennett (Seahawks) and nose tackle Roy Miller (Jaguars). Tampa Bay signed Eagles tackle Derek Landri and former USF end George Selvie. But they need to build depth while finding a future starter or two.

It wouldn't be surprising if the Bucs address the position in the second round, where Purdue tackle Kawaan Short and Florida State end Cornellius Carradine could be around. The Bucs interviewed SMU end Margus Hunt, who hails from Estonia and has played football for only four years, at the Senior Bowl and One Buc Place.

"I think defensive tackle is one of the deeper positions in the draft," Dominik said. "So do you have a chance to pull a guy at 43 or 73 even? I think there's an opportunity for that. I think it's a good class in that regard, and that'll be one of the positions that will be interesting to watch."

Quarterback

Schiano did not address the position in free agency, and the Bucs might want to have a hedge bet against Josh Freeman.

Regardless, Dominik would always like to have a young quarterback in the pipeline, the way the Packers did with Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck and Matt Flynn.

"I won't force it," Dominik said. "But I'm not opposed to it."

Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Arkansas' Tyler Wilson and Tennessee's Tyler Bray are within range in the third round.

Defensive back

The starters — Revis and Eric Wright at cornerback, Barron and Dashon Goldson at safety— are set. But the Bucs still need a nickel corner unless Ronde Barber decides to return.

Even so, Wright has only a one-year deal. Schiano might reach back to Boise State for Jamar Taylor, a former teammate of Martin. Washington's Desmond Trufant and Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks also could be around in the second round.

A good bar bet? The Bucs might take a flier on troubled but talented former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.

Receiver/tight end

The Bucs could use a slot receiver and pass-catching tight end. Southern Cal receiver Robert Woods could be a steal in the second round. Closer to home, Florida tight end Jordan Reed, a confident pass-catcher who also can play H-back, has a fourth-round grade.

Rick Stroud can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @NFLStroud.

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