There are equally good arguments for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select both LSU CB Morris Claiborne and Alabama RB Trent Richardson at their No. 5 overall pick. Both are the definitive top player at their position in the draft this year. Cornerback is the more valuable position, but Richardson is a once-every-five-years level prospect. The Buccaneers have a more immediate need at running back, but cornerback will be equally bare in a year unless the team re-signs Aqib Talib, which is a risky proposition.
Perhaps Cleveland will make the decision for Tampa Bay by taking Claiborne or Richardson at No. 4, but as I detailed yesterday, the possibility remains that the Browns and St. Louis Rams swap picks, resulting in the Rams taking Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon, and giving the Buccaneers both players. ESPN's NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas caught up with new Bucs head coach Greg Schiano yesterday at the owner's meetings and passes on a possible clue to who the team (or at least Schiano) prefers:
"I think LeGarrette (Blount) has tons of ability. No one who touches the football will get touches if they don't protect the football. That is one of our core covenants -- the ball."
Blount fumbled five times last year and lost three of them, more importantly, fumbling in such a way that drew the ire of former head coach Raheem Morris. Morris benched Blount for his ball-security issues late in the season. Trent Richardson, on the other hand, lost only one fumble (7 total) in his entire career at Alabama.
Schiano went on describe what kind of back he wanted: A "bell cow" back that you "just feed." When asked whether Richardson was that guy, Schiano said that he "could be" and complimented the fact that he did it in "toughest league in college football".
GM Mark Dominik has the final call in the war room, but if Richardson is still on board when the Buccaneers pick, it's likely Schiano will be pounding on the table for him. If the Bucs don't take Richardson in the first, look for a running back like Boise State's Doug Martin in the second.