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Mel Kiper Predicts Buccaneers' Draft Pick

Posted Feb 9, 2016

Who does the ESPN Draft expert believe the Buccaneers will select with the No. 9 pick in this year's draft?

Shortly after the conclusion of the 2015 regular season, ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper released his first mock draft of the year. Kiper’s colleague Todd McShay believed that the Buccaneers would use the ninth overall pick on the defensive side of the ball and draft Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner.

READ: TODD MCSHAY MAKES PREDICTION

Kiper agrees that Tampa Bay will go defense in the first round, but at a different position. In his initial mock draft, Kiper has Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III landing with the Buccaneers at No. 9.

“This is just a truly gifted cover man, with the ability to press or play off and really just mirror a pass-catcher all over the place,” Kiper wrote. “He's been doing it since he arrived in Gainesville. The Bucs do have a need at cornerback, but there isn't a team in the NFL that wouldn't want this kind of talent on the roster.”

Kiper has Hargreaves as the second defensive back off the board. He predicts that Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey will be selected by the Jaguars at No. 5.

READ: 4 LESSONS FROM DENVER'S VICTORY

Hargreaves was a consensus All-American in 2015 after recording 33 tackles, four interceptions and four passes defensed. In his three years with the Gators, he earned 121 tackles, 10 interceptions, 27 passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

“While scouts have voiced some concerns about Hargreaves’ size and recovery speed, you won’t find anyone who doesn’t admire his competitiveness and consistency of production,” NFL.com wrote in their scouting report. “Hargreaves has a level of suddenness and explosiveness in his movements that should always have him near the ball. With top-notch ball skills and exceptional instincts that drew praise from Alabama’s Nick Saban, Hargreaves possesses the football makeup to become a Pro Bowl cornerback.”