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Tampa Bay Buccaneers to target LB, CB on Day 2 of NFL draft

TAMPA — The first piece is in place.

But the Bucs' work is just beginning.

With Adrian Clayborn in the fold and the Bucs seemingly having resolved their issues at right defensive end, they look ahead to Day 2 of the draft where they have equally pressing needs.

High on Tampa Bay's list today: linebacker, cornerback and, perhaps, running back.

Linebacker, in particular, is in flux for the Bucs given the free-agent status of middle linebacker Barrett Ruud and the potential free-agent status of strong-sider Quincy Black.

General manager Mark Dominik has stressed that his plan is to proceed as though players not under contract will not return given that no NFL team has had a chance to retain its free agents.

Under that assumption, the search will be on today for Ruud's replacement. The Bucs could find that in Illinois' Martez Wilson, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound first team All-Big Ten selection who notched 112 tackles last season.

Because inside linebacker is not seen as a strength of this draft, there could be multiple teams clamoring for Wilson. But inside is also not a position in which teams invest heavily, which could work in the Bucs' favor.

Miami's Colin McCarthy, a Clearwater native, is on the Bucs' radar in the second of third rounds. Miami has a history of producing impact players at middle linebacker including Ray Lewis, Dan Morgan and Jon Beason, and McCarthy hopes to be the next in that line.

Outside linebacker is an area of depth in this draft, and was not targeted much Thursday night. Texas A&M's Von Miller, drafted second overall by the Broncos, was the only linebacker selected in the first round.

That leaves players such as Akeem Ayers of UCLA, a pass-rushing force who also plays well in space, available. The Bucs select 19th in the second round (51st overall), followed by the 20th pick in the third round (84th overall).

The Bucs nearly had a tough decision when Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara slid in the first round, but he was plucked by the Giants at No. 19, one pick ahead of Tampa Bay. With Aqib Talib in jeopardy of being released and/or suspended for his alleged role in a recent shooting, the Bucs are likely to target the cornerback position today if the opportunity arises.

Among the names to watch: Aaron Williams of Texas, Brandon Harris of Miami and Ras-I Dowling of Virginia.

Also, with Cadillac Williams likely headed for free agency and LeGarrette Blount still having a small body of work in the latter half of last season, the Bucs might looks at running back prospects such as Mikel Leshoure of Illinois, Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech, DeMarco Murray of Oklahoma and Daniel Thomas of Kansas State.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers to target LB, CB on Day 2 of NFL draft 04/29/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 29, 2011 1:18am]
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