The Buccaneers have plenty of needs. They need edge rushers, they need linebackers, they need cornerbacks, they need a stand-out safety, they need a running back to complement Legarrette Blount, they need guards, they need a right tackle. This plethora of needs alone should force the Bucs to look to add talent first and foremost in the draft, but free agency plays a role as well. Usually the draft is the last resort for teams to fill needs on their team, but free agency will now happen after the draft, or even during the draft depending on how quickly the NFL will adhere to the court order. This means any needs not fillled in the draft could easily be filled in free agency.
They're free to pick the best players on the board, as any missed needs can be filled in free agency. The Bucs have the prospective salary cap room to compete for all of the top free agents. No cornerback help? Sign Nnamdi Asomugha or Johnathan Joseph. No pass rusher drafted? Go after Ray Edwards or Charles Johnson. No linebacker help? Re-sign Quincy Black, Adam Hayward and Barrett Ruud. No guard drafted? Re-sign Davin Joseph.
This gives the Bucs a lot of options in the draft, and should make today very interesting. Hit the jump to see a number of players the Bucs could be targeting in the first round.
DE Cameron Jordan, California: A powerful defensive end best suited to play on the left side of the defensive line. He's a hard worker, loves football and is already a polished player. He carries very little risk and could anchor that side of the line for years to come.
DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue: A favorite of Bucs fans and another hard-working, high-character, football-loving player. Kerrigan seems better suited to play on the right side, and should add to the Bucs' pass rush immediately. He's a very low-risk player, but he also doesn't have a lot of upside. You know what you're getting in Kerrigan, and it won't be much less but it won't be much more either.
DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa: A very powerful football player who looked to be a top-10 selection if he had come out after his Junior season. He decided to stay in school, though, and had a lackluster 2010 season, notching only 3 sacks. His ability to get after the quarterback consistently is in question, but he's a terrific player otherwise and the lackluster production was in part a result of the defensive scheme used at Iowa, which asked him to play contain more than rush the passer.
DE Aldon Smith, Missouri: A very raw but highly talented defensive end, Smith has a terrific skill-set and looks the part of an elite pass rusher. He will need to learn to stay low while rushing off the edge to succeed in the NFL, and will have to add strength and skills as well. Right now he's a better pass rusher as a defensive tackle than as a defensive end. If he develops he could be the best pass rusher selected in this draft, though.
DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson: A powerful, solid defensive end who isn't a special pass rusher but an extremely well-rounded player. He was seen as a potential first-overall pick at some point this offseason, but injury concerns have dropped him down draft boards. Those injury concerns are significant, but no one knows how serious it really is and every team doctor will evaluate him differently. The Bucs' own evaluation of his knee will be crucial to where they have him ranked.
CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado: Perhaps the best press-man cornerback in the draft, and only lands behind Patrick Peterson in terms of overall talent. Unfortunately there are a lot of off-field question marks about this player, and that's the only reason he's likely to be available when the Bucs do pick. And the Bucs will only pick him if they're satisfied his problems are behind him.
G Mike Pouncey, Florida: Maurkice Pouncey's twin brother is without a doubt the best guard in this draft. He would be a terrific addition to the Bucs offense, but the Bucs have many more needs and it's entirely unclear whether he'll even be available at #20.
OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin: Carimi may be the prototypical right tackle: powerful, nasty and a great run blocker. He's not that good as a pass blocker but he's hardly a liability. If he develops well he could start at left tackle as well.