NFL Draft Picks Who Would Be Instant Starters for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The franchise's needs are at cornerback, free safety, defensive tackle, tight end, linebacker, offensive tackle and defensive end.
This slideshow looks at how the Bucs might address those needs by drafting prospects who can come in and start immediately. Instead of focusing on just first-rounders, we will look at some more under-the-radar prospects or less obvious draft picks.
You may notice how there is no defensive end listed. That is because I doubt that any draft pick would start over Adrian Clayborn or Michael Bennett.
With that said, it's time to look at NFL draft picks who would be instant starters for the Bucs.
CBs Dee Milliner/ Jonathan Banks
Either Johnthan Banks or Dee Milliner (or somehow both) would be more than welcome in Tampa Bay.
You know why; it's because the Bucs don't have a secondary.
Well, that's not completely true. They do have a secondary; it's just down right awful.The Bucs finished 2012 with the league's worst passing defense, gave up 30 touchdowns through the air, and allowed opposing QBs a passing rating of 93.5 when throwing against them.
With Aqib Talib traded and Eric Wright often missing due to suspension/injury, Tampa had to close out the season with E.J. Biggers and Leonard Johnson as starters. Both youngsters performed admirably, considering neither were expected to see that much playing time when the season began, but the Bucs can definitely improve the cornerback position through the draft.
That's why we look to Dee Milliner and Johnathan Banks, of Alabama and Mississippi State, respectively.
Milliner, the consensus No. 1 corner in the 2013 draft, might not reach the Bucs at No. 13, but Tampa has a solid shot at grabbing Banks, the second-best corner in the draft.
Either way, the secondary will be automatically improved with a new corner.
LB Khaseem Greene
How amazing would it be if the Bucs drafted Khaseem Greene?
Selecting Greene would reunite Greg Schiano with his old Rutgers pupil.
Don't think that Greene is just a sentimental pick; far from it.
The linebacker showed his talents in the Senior Bowl, emerging as one of the top guys at his position in the draft.
Here's what Bleacher Report featured columnist Alex Dunlap had to say about Greene's performance at the Senior Bowl:
In Senior Bowl practices, Greene was a solid, rangy playmaker who had a nose for the flow of the play and the ability to position his body to counter however necessary. His excellent cover skills were on display as well.
Greene could play on the inside or the outside for the Bucs, and round out the trio of emerging young linebackers with Mason Foster and Lavonte David.
DT Sheldon Richardson
The Bucs already have one Pro Bowl defensive tackle in Gerald McCoy, so why not add another?
Sheldon Richardson, the big man from Missouri, could be a true impact player for the Bucs should they choose to draft him.
The Missouri defensive tackle has excellent pass-rushing skills on the inside, showing off a high motor and great first-step quickness to get to the passer.
Imagine an imposing interior pass rush combined with the awesomeness we currently call Tampa's run defense.
Basically, you have just pictured a perfect defensive line.
TE Tyler Eifert
Look at the above picture.
Notice how high the Notre Dame tight end has to be to catch that football.
We're talking about a 10-foot (roughly) vertical range.
At 6'6'', Tyler Eifert is a true vertical threat who can adds another dimension to virtually any NFL offense, including Tampa's. Despite average route-running skills, he can still get open just being able to outreach and overpower defenders to snatch the football from the air. His blocking skills ain't too shabby either for the most part.
Looking back at how well Josh Freeman did with the 6'5'' Vincent Jackson, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to predict Eifert having a similar level of success on the Bucs.
He could come in as a starter immediately and replace the aging Dallas Clark as the team's No.1 TE.
S Jonathan Cyprien
One of the sad facts of life that every Bucs fan must one day come to terms with is that Ronde Barber will eventually retire and no longer be a part of the franchise he has been attached to for 16 years.
The man is 37 years old after all.
This means Mark Dominik should be scouring scouting reports across the nation in search of Barber's future replacement at free safety.
Yes, Barber has only played one year at free safety following his conversion form cornerback, but his absence will still leave a gaping hole in the Bucs' secondary.
One player who might be able to fill that void is Jonathan Cyprien of Florida International.
According to Matt Miller, the free safety excelled at the Senior Bowl.
Cyprien had one of the biggest impacts of any player at the Senior Bowl. In a week where few players want to go at full speed, Cyprien wasn't afraid to show off his physical abilities. He impressed from day one, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him enter the discussion in Round 2.
Cyprien plays great in coverage and has a good motor.
Pairing him with Mark Barron would give the Bucs two young safeties who could both be stars one day.
Needless to say, Cyprien will only be an instant starter if Ronde Barber retires before the 2013 season begins, which is always a possibility.
OT Lane Johnson
Even though the Bucs' offensive line kept shifting during the regular season, Donald Penn was a mainstay at left tackle throughout the year. But even he lacked consistency in his play, alternating from greatness to mediocrity on a weekly basis.
That was very problematic, considering that the Bucs lost two Pro Bowl guards to injuries, and had to bench starting right tackle Jeremy Trueblood early in the season.
The offense needed consistency to overcome the tumultuous changes and did not find it in Penn.
In order to improve the offensive line, Tampa could draft an offensive tackle to play on either the left or right side. A left tackle would move Penn to the right side, where he might be a better fit, and a right tackle would replace Demar Dotson, who was only average in 2012.
Lane Johnson could be the answer to the Bucs' offensive tackle woes. The Oklahoma product is a good athlete (especially for an OT) and a great pass-protector with excellent strength.
Since Josh Freeman plays so poorly under pressure, a pass-protecter like Johnson could make a big difference on the Bucs.