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April 1, 2010 @ 3:30 pm
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OT Okung, OG Iupati Visit Bucs

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wasted no time gathering information and talking to some of the biggest names in the 2010 NFL Draft. The Bucs are expected to visit with UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price and Oklahama State wide receiver Dez Bryant in the near future, and today the list of high-profile players that have visited One Buc Place grew larger. Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung and Idaho offensive guard Mike Iupati can now be added to the list of players that have already made their pre-draft visits with Tampa Bay. 

Tampa Bay has completed 20 of their allotted 30 visits with potential draft picks.

The list of elite players who have visited One Buc Place recently includes several offensive linemen -- Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung and Idaho guard Mike Iupati.

If the St. Louis Rams pull the trigger on Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the first overall selection, the Bucs figure to have a chance to land either Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

Both Suh and McCoy are expected to visit the Bucs later this month along with Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant and Tennessee safety Eric Berry. Other players who have visited Tampa Bay include Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes and Oregon LaGarrette Blount. 

Source: St. Petersburg Times - Rick Stroud

PewterReport.com's Take: Offensive linemen aren't the biggest of Tampa Bay's needs. The Bucs tendered restricted free agent tackles Donald Penn and Jeremy Trueblood this offseason, but that doesn't mean they aren't willing to upgrade the tackle position in April with any of their 11 draft picks. The team also isn't opposed to upgrading the interior part of their offensive line. With uncertainty surrounding the future of guard Arron Sears, Tampa Bay may look at drafting a swing-guard to compete with Jeremy Zuttah. The Bucs spent a good amount of time watching offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl, so it wouldn't be surprising if they consider taking one early in the draft.

Okung and Iupati are considered the top prospects at their respective positions, but are not likely candidates to be selected with the team's third overall pick in the draft. Both players are expected to be off the board when the Bucs pick in the second round, but the team is keeping all options open, including trading down in the first round, which could land Okung or Iupati. If one of those players falls farther than expected in the draft, the Bucs will also be prepared to trade back up into the first round to grab their guy.

If both defensive tackle prospects that Tampa Bay covets, Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy, are off the board when the Bucs pick in the first round and they are unable to trade down, the team may look to draft the player available with the best value to them and that player might be Okung, who is a projected top five pick. Although that scenario is unlikely, the Bucs are preparing for any possible situation that could occur on draft day.

It's also important to remember not to put too much stock into pre-draft visits. The Bucs are doing their due diligence with most of the draft's top prospects, just incase they are in position to draft a player that falls and is high on their draft board. Keep in mind that teams also use pre-draft visits as smokescreens, so they don't tip their hand to another team and so they can keep other front offices guessing as to what their draft plans are.


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