ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper views cornerback as the secondary need for Tampa Bay heading into the 2011 NFL Draft. After the first round, Kiper discussed the depth at corner that could help the Buccaneers in the second, third, or in the later rounds.
“Cornerback is another area with [Ronde] Barber getting up there now,” Kiper said. “Look at a guy that could maybe step in there. They like some of their younger kids. [Aqib] Talib is obviously an excellent player, and some of these younger guys they have high hopes for, but cornerback [is a position] you could look at right now. I think another wide receiver wouldn’t hurt. [Arrelious] Benn is coming off the injury. Mike Williams had a great year and Benn showed great promise late but is coming off an injury. They could look at another linebacker obviously in there, but I think defensive end and cornerback that could be debated for the first two rounds. Defensive end because the strongest position in this draft is defensive line overall. It’s got a lot of options. If you don’t like Clayborn right now, if you don’t like Kerrigan enough or if you don’t like Houston enough, well then you might be looking at an Aldon Smith. You might be looking at a guy that is more intriguing than the guys I just threw out there.”
While Kiper thinks that cornerback is a critical need, the Bucs were pleased with the play of young cornerback E.J. Biggers. The second-year pro Biggers started six games and served as the Buccaneers nickel back in the other 10 games of the season. Tampa Bay is also enthusiastic about Myron Lewis. The Bucs selected Lewis in the third round out of Vanderbilt in last year’s draft. The Buccaneers could be set at corner in the long-term with Biggers, Lewis, and Talib.
The Buccaneers signed veteran Ronde Barber to a one-year $4 million contract for the 2011 season. Kiper believes there is some quality depth at the cornerback position heading into the middle rounds of the draft.
“I think the depth at corner will allow them to get some guys to help them down the line and I’m not just talking about second- or third-rounders,” said Kiper. “Justin Rogers at Richmond, a good player, he could be an excellent nickel back. I think he’ll be an intriguing guy in the fourth or fifth round. You look at Brandon Burton from Utah in the second round area. He had a couple games where he was beaten deep, but he has some talent. Brandon Harris is the interesting guy from Miami. I think he had a very average year. He had a good combine and I thought he would be a first-round pick if he had a good year, but he didn’t. Where does he balance out? Probably a second-round pick I would think after all is said and done. Then you think about the senior group of corners and there are some guys there that are very intriguing. Ras-I Dowling had a variety of injuries and then he got hurt running the 40 at the combine. He was a first-round talent going into the year, now he’s probably a third-round pick. Javon House at New Mexico State is a third- or fourth-round option. Cortez Allen from The Citadel is another guy that has a chance. Shareece Right at USC and Johnny Patrick at Louisville – all of those guys have a legitimate chance to be guys that in the third or fourth round can certainly help you. Buster Screen from Chattanooga had a real good combine and a real nice career there. He’s the kind of guy in the third or fourth round area that could help you. Justin Rogers from Richmond is underrated.”
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