Buccaneers Need to Trade Up for Patrick Peterson

Eli NachmanyCorrespondent IIIApril 14, 2011

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 13:  Patrick Peterson #7 of the Louisiana State University Tigers runs back an interception against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Tiger Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Patrick Peterson is considered, by some, to be the safest player in the draft.

A speedy cornerback with game-changing ability who can also contribute in the return game is a player that a good number of teams would sign up for.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to be the team that signs up for Peterson, though.

The Buccaneers came into their own last year, posting a surprising 10-6 record when many thought them to be the worst team in the NFL at the start of the year.

With a pristine turnover differential, a franchise quarterback in the making, and a powerful running game, the Buccaneer offense led the way to playoff contention.

On defense, the Buccaneers played well enough to sustain leads, and depth at a lot of positions, namely safety, saved the Tampa Bay defense from making the team irrelevant.

The point is that the Buccaneer defense is good and can perform adequately, but apart from Aqib Talib (who lacks great coverage skills but gets by on all of his gambling with the ball), there is no threat to change the game.

The Buccaneers got what they needed with the Gerald McCoy pick last year—a physical, interior defensive lineman who will be a starter for the next 10 years. McCoy is an above-average defensive tackle, but he is not winning any awards.

This year, in the first round, the Buccaneers need to hit a home run with their pick, and it needs to be a defensive pick.

The Buccaneers can kill a lot of birds with one stone by trading up to nab Patrick Peterson.

If the Buccaneers trade with the Cardinals and give Arizona an extra second and fifth, along with Tampa's first-rounder, the Buccaneers would be an almost-lock to get Patrick Peterson.

With Aqib Talib facing up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted in an assault charge, the Buccaneers could be facing a very scary situation in which their only legitimate starting cornerback is the aging Ronde Barber.

Bringing in Peterson would ensure that the Bucs have a ballhawk to replace Talib and a starter to line up across from Barber.

In the best-case scenario, Talib is not convicted and Peterson can play free safety (remember, he's been mentioned as having the size and skill set to have immense success as a free safety) until Ronde Barber retires, then he and Talib can line up across from one another and form a scary duo.

Peterson could be the kick returner from Day One in Tampa Bay, and would be a 10-year starter on defense, no matter where he played.

The former LSU Tiger is a ballhawk capable of scoring whenever the ball is in his hands, and he makes a lot of plays on the ball.

Peterson excels at controlling his body and catching the ball at its highest point, and he will cause nightmares for opposing offensive coordinators in 2011.

The Buccaneers have an offensive identity, but to take the next step and become a playoff team, this team needs a defensive identity as well.

Having Peterson and Talib on the field at once would make the Buccaneers a ballhawking, change-the-game-on-one-play type of team.

With Drew Brees' interception total steadily increasing and the Panthers' quarterback situation unresolved, the Buccaneers could really use another game breaker at cornerback when they face their NFC South opponents next year.

Also, the Buccaneers need to be able to stop Matt Ryan, and another cornerback, especially one of Peterson's caliber, would do just that.

The Buccaneers have a young, talented roster, so losing the extra picks it would take to trade up for Peterson wouldn't be tragic to the building of the roster.

Tampa Bay has done it before, getting the guy they want in the first round with Josh Freeman.

In an ideal scenario, Patrick Peterson is next for the Bucs.