It looks like today is Mock Draft Day and no one told me. Todd McShay of ESPN, Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Russel Lande of Sporting News and Wes Bunting of the National Football Post all put out some mock drafts this week. So, let's see who they think the Bucs will pick:
Ronde Barber is aging and Aqib Talib's future is up in the air, so Kirkpatrick makes sense. He flashes good instincts in off-man coverage, is physical in run support and has great size. Kirkpatrick is not elite in man-to-man coverage, but he's made huge strides in the last two seasons.
This pick is perfectly sensible: the Bucs need a CB and Kirkpatrick is the top one left on the board, as Morris Claiborne was picked third overall by the Minnesota Vikings. However, this may be a little early to pick Kirkpatrick. Other players who the Bucs could pick and were still available include WR Justin Blackmon and LB Luke Kuechly.
Josh Freeman regressed this season, and for him to get back on track, the Buccaneers must provide him with better protection.
While the offensive line has given up pressure at points, especially the last few games, Donald Penn has had a pretty good year at left tackle. If the Bucs were to draft Martin he would play right tackle for at least a couple of seasons, which would be a pretty poor result for a sixth overall draft pick. While Martin is certainly a good player, and he would be a huge upgrade over Trueblood, I don't see this pick happening. CB Dre Kirkpatrick, RB Trent Richardson, WR Michael Floyd, LB Luke Kuechly and LB Zach Brown were all available at this point and would have made more sense for the Bucs.
Starting corner Ronde Barber is 36 and can't play forever. Therefore, getting a young, physical corner who can press and play in zone concepts would be a safe/solid top ten selection.
Well, this one is pretty similar to Todd McShay's mock draft. Morris Claiborne was already gone at this point, while Justin Blackmon and Luke Kuechly were still on the board.
One of the more disappointing teams in 2011, the Bucs don't have any obvious holes, but could use upgrades in a number of areas. RB LaGarrette Blount has struggled to stay healthy and Tampa Bay averages only 97.1 rushing yards per game. Richardson would give the Buccaneers a much needed shot of adrenaline to their offense.
Well, this pick would make a certain Bucs Nation reader very happy. Regardless, though, I don't think this is going to happen. The one thing the Bucs have is a competent running game, so drafting a running back doesn't make much sense at that point in the draft - even if Trent Richardson is an extremely talented player. Interestingly, Brugler doesn't have Kirkpatrick going until the 18th overall pick.
Other than the very talented (but unreliable) Aqib Talib, this team lacks the cornerbacks to handle their conversion away from the Cover 2 defense. Kirkpatrick has the size and physicality to fit in perfectly and would provide solid value here.
Another vote for Kirkpatrick, which does seem like a perfect fit right now. Interestingly, Justin Blackmon is already off the board here, but Luke Kuechly is still available.