Ten Draft Scenarios For Your Consideration

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 8: Running back Carlos Hyde #34 of the Ohio State Buckeyes tries to hold off linebacker Lavonte David #4 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers during their game at Memorial Stadium October 8, 2011 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska won 34-27. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

The closer that we get to the draft, the better sense we get of the outlines of our draft. With less than two weeks to go, the combine and pro days are concluded, team interviews have taken place, and draft stocks have largely stabilized. The Bucs have four very clear positions of need: linebacker, safety, cornerback, and running back. With three choices in the first three rounds, how will the Bucs approach the first three rounds of the draft? Here are some possibilities to consider.

A few notes:

1. The availability of any player here is, of course, subject to change as the draft unfolds. As an example, I believe that Lavonte David should be available at #36 regardless of the preceding 35 picks- and I may be dead wrong.
2. My underlying presumption with Trumaine Johnson being drafted is that we'd try to convert him to free safety, and that he wouldn't play cornerback in our system.

#1: The Claiborne Camp Dream Scenario, Mark I

1. Morris Claiborne
2. Doug Martin (or Lamar Miller/David Wilson)
3. Trumaine Johnson or Brandon Taylor

Pros: The Bucs add three players at three key need positions who will likely start immediately.
Cons: The majority-opinion biggest need (linebacker) remains unaddressed, there's no guarantee that Martin will be available at #36.

#2: The Richardson Camp Dream Scenario, Mark I

1. Trent Richardson
2. Janoris Jenkins (or Josh Robinson)
3. Trumaine Johnson or Brandon Taylor

Pros: Again, three starters have been added.
Cons: Again, our biggest need position hasn't been addressed, Jenkins has the potential to become the bastard child of Talib and T-Jack, and (again) there's no guarantee that he'll still be there at #36 anyway if another team takes the gamble.

#3: The Claiborne Camp Dream Scenario, Mark II

1. Morris Claiborne
2. Lavonte David
3. LaMichael James (or Chris Polk)

Pros: Two starters and a role-player/co-starter are added, Blount has no reason to feel displaced but has extra incentive to prove his worth as the starter.
Cons: We're reliant on James or Polk reaching #68 (a matter of debate, but ultimately out of our hands), we have only our current safeties (plus late round picks, UDFAs, and free agent roster cut casualties), and Schiano's bell cow has two heads.

#4: The Richardson Camp Dream Scenario, Mark II:

1. Trent Richardson
2. Lavonte David
3. Trumaine Johnson or Brandon Taylor

Pros: Three starters are added and both linebacker and safety are addressed.
Cons: The Bucs have no true #1 CB and many passing offenses will have their way with us as a result.

#5: The Kalil Scenario, Mark I:

1. Matt Kalil
2. Lavonte David
3. Trumaine Johnson or Brandon Taylor

Pros: We're now the proud owners of the best O-line in the league. We've addressed our top two need positions.
Cons: Again, the Bucs have no true #1 CB and some passing offenses will have their way with us as a result (i.e., another year of Biggers/Lewis in a starting slot). Schiano has no bell cow but Blount.

#6: The Kalil Scenario, Mark II:

1. Matt Kalil
2. Janoris Jenkins (or Josh Robinson)
3. LaMichael James (or Chris Polk)

Pros: Sounds familiar? This was how it played out under my stewardship at the final MtD mock. Again, we've got an absolutely elite O-line and we've gotten a potential #1 CB and a complementary back.
Cons: See: Jenkins=potentially nightmarish headcase + no attention to our biggest need positions (LB and S). Again, no guarantee that Jenkins and/or James are available to oblige us with this scenario.

Now we enter the most dangerous portion of our mocking: trade scenarios. Oh so fun, as long as you keep in mind that the likelihood of one happening is about 10%. Still, better odds than the lottery, so:

#7. The Great Trade for Kalil:

This requires that both Minnesota and Cleveland pass on Kalil and we are able to manage a trade down for his services. My theoretical partner here is Buffalo, for their 1st, 2nd, and 4th round picks (possibly also a 2013 pick). Put your hopes in this scenario against the possibility that your heart will be broken suddenly and violently.

1. Luke Kuechly
2. Doug Martin (or Miller/Wilson)
3. Josh Robinson (or Jenkins)
4. Trumaine Johnson or Brandon Taylor

Pros: And a pony too? All four needs are addressed, we potentially have four rookie starters.
Cons: It's a trade-down, so it's fantasy until it happens. Otherwise: Well...we potentially have four rookie starters. Martin may not be available (though Wilson or Miller should be). Robinson has potential, but can he be the #1 CB from day one? Much more of a question mark than there would be with Claiborne (or even Jenkins).

#8: The Great Trade for Claiborne, Mark I:

Kalil's gone to Minnesota, Richardson's gone to Cleveland, and Tampa's poised to take Claiborne- unless another team can convince us with a plethora of draft picks (knowing that St. Louis would take him without hesitation). Who would consider such a trade? Answer #1: Cincinnati. Although they appear content to sit and wait, they might just jump if the right situation transpires; remember, they just made the playoffs and are therefore more likely to gamble on immediate return. The Bucs net both first round picks and a fourth round pick.

1. Dre Kirkpatrick/Stephon Gilmore
2. Don'ta Hightower
3. Doug Martin (or Miller/Wilson)
4. Trumaine Johnson or Brandon Taylor

Pros: Hard to argue with this kind of return. All needs addressed: no guaranteed Pro Bowlers, but a strong return likely all around without any immediate red flags re character.
Cons: It's a trade-down, so it's fantasy until it happens. Otherwise: Hightower looks better in 3-4 looks than 4-3 IMO. No guarantees on which RB will be left at #36. And also no guarantee on what CB will be left at #17. Otherwise, aside from the almost certain lack of Kuechly (priority one in a tradedown, IMO) this looks good.

#9: The Great Trade for Claiborne, Mark II:

Kalil's gone to Minnesota, Richardson's gone to Cleveland, and Tampa's poised to take Claiborne- unless another team can convince us with a plethora of draft picks (knowing that St. Louis would take him without hesitation). Who would consider such a trade? Answer #2: Carolina. If they're in love with Claiborne and (just as importantly) don't want to face him twice a year, they might consider it. What could we net? The #9 pick, their fourth round pick, and their 2013 second round pick, say.

1. Luke Kuechly
2. Janoris Jenkins (or Josh Robinson)
3. LaMichael James (or Chris Polk)

Pros: An additional fourth round pick and a future pick, our biggest position of need is addressed, and we have two important patches for CB and RB.
Cons: Aside from Claiborne being on the Panthers? The above-mentioned issues with Jenkins & James + no answer at safety.

#10: The Great Trade for Richardson

Now we're already in dream country when we discuss any trade-down. So indulge me for a moment: let's say that Cleveland takes Blackmon or Richarson with #4. Now's let's go a step further and say that they can't bear to see their #2 choice go to St. Louis or us. Could they trade up and take two picks in a row? Well, if they offered Tampa their second first round pick (#22), their second round pick (#37), their fourth round pick (#101), and their 2013 first round pick- would you say no?

1. Don'ta Hightower
2. Janoris Jenkins (or Josh Robinson)
3. Doug Martin (or Miller/Wilson)
4. Trumaine Johnson or Brandon Taylor

Pros: All needs are met, and we have an extra first round pick for next year.
Cons: Jenkins issues, see above. Possibility of missing out on any of the players mapped out at #36 or later.

If nothing else, I hope that this article draws attention to how much spitballing we're all guilty of this time of year. Any scenario doesn't just depend upon the constants (Luck to Indy, RG3 to Washington), it depends upon variables. In all likelihood, none of the ten scenarios above will play out: that's the draft, where chaos meets assessment. The best we can hope is that our own front office stays cool and collected and keeps our team's needs at the forefront.

So what's your favorite scenario of these ten?

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