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3 Positions Bucs Could Target in First Round

Posted Feb 10, 2016

Which positions could the Buccaneers be targeting with the No. 9 pick in this year's draft?

1. Cornerback
It’s no secret that the Buccaneers’ secondary struggled at times during the 2015 season. The team used several pairs of starting cornerbacks throughout the year, with Jonhthan Banks, Alterraun Verner, Mike Jenkins, Tim Jennings, Sterling Moore and Jude Adjei-Barimah all seeing time at one point or another. Moore and Adjei-Barimah started for the second half of the season but the Bucs finished the season giving up 31 passing touchdowns, the fifth-most in the league. Many mock drafters believe the Bucs will use their No. 9 pick on a corner; ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves going to Tampa Bay while NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah believes the team will select Ohio State’s Eli Apple.

2. Defensive end
According to many draft analysts, there is almost a 50-50 split on which position the Bucs will draft at No. 9: either a corner or a defensive end. Anybody watching Super Bowl 50 could see the significant impact a game-changing pass rusher can have. The Buccaneers saw Jacquies Smith perform at a high level at times in 2015. But he missed a significant amount of time with injuries. Will Gholston had a strong season as well, but his strong suit is against the run, not rushing the passer. ESPN’s Todd McShay has the Buccaneers drafting Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner ninth while NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks thinks the Bucs will select Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson.

3. Offensive tackle
Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht has discussed his philosophy of drafting the best player available, not necessarily reaching on a player based on need. Both of the Buccaneers’ right tackles this season – Gosder Cherilus and Demar Dotson – are 30 or older, so it’s possible the Bucs look to improve depth and add another young linemen to join 2015 picks Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet. The Buccaneers could look for a guard to succeed Logan Mankins, but none of NFL.com’s draft analysts have a guard with a first-round grade.