The draft is getting closer, and that means mock drafts are becoming more and more frequent as well. Those mocks don't mean much individually, but as a group they can give us a good idea of where certain players are likely to be drafted, and who's likely to be available where. So let's dive into it and go through a few.
Let's start with the standard picks: two helpings of Morris Claiborne. One with Matt Kalil and Trent Richardson off the board, while the other sees the Bucs taking Claiborne over Richardson.
SB Nation's 2012 NFL Mock Draft:
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
This certainly looks like the dream scenario for Tampa. If Claiborne and Richardson are gone, they could certainly justify Kalil here, moving Donald Penn over to the right side.
5. Morris Claiborne
Analysis: Once Richardson went off the board, this became an easy call. The Bucs need to add a top-notch cornerback because Ronde Barber is nearing the end of his career and Aqib Talib could face prison time or a suspension. Even if Talib is able to play this season, he's headed into the last year of his contract. The Bucs addressed the position they needed to most. They can get a running back early in the second or third round. (Pat Yasinskas)
Now, though, the unconventional choices, which are a lot more interesting. First, there's Mike Tanier who thinks the Bucs should really address their defensive line. The Bucs have a lot of young talent along the defensive line, and they should probably give that talent a chance to develop, but this selection is still worth contemplating:
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Watching the Bucs' defensive line late in the year was like watching a road crew fix a pothole on a hot Friday afternoon: They didn't want to be there, and they were more interested in milking the clock than getting the job done. Cox brings versatility to a line that has more talent than its 2,497 rushing yards allowed indicates, but he also brings hustle. The Bucs did a fine job addressing some offensive needs through free agency, so they can work on their defense with this pick.
Finally, there's Greg Cosell. This mock draft is a little different because Cosell is not trying to predict what teams will do, and he's not paying attention to anything but what he saw on tape. The resulting pick is surprising, to say the least:
5. Tampa Bay:
Remember what I said about Minnesota. It applies to the Bucs as well. In the NFC South, they must defend Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton. If they expect to be competitive, they must cover on the perimeter. They select the best pure man-to-man cover corner in the draft, Janoris Jenkins. If you watched him at Florida in 2010 matched against AJ Green, Julio Jones and Alshon Jeffery, you know what I mean.