The Buccaneers entered this offseason with a perceived need at two defensive positions: cornerback and defensive end. In 2015, the team used several combinations of starting cornerbacks and finished in the middle of the league in terms of total yards allowed per game. With Gerald McCoy and Jacquies Smith both battling injuries, the Bucs didn't have a player record double-digit sacks, extending a streak which dates back to 2005.
Many expected Tampa Bay to address those two positions in the draft, but the Bucs took their first step toward bolstering their defense in free agency by signing Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes and established veteran defensive end Robert Ayers.
Despite those signings, the Bucs could still be looking at a corner or edge rusher in this year's draft, General Manager Jason Licht said on Monday at the NFL's owner meetings in Boca Raton, Florida.
"(Those signings are) not going to stop us from drafting players at those respective positions," Licht told Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. "We still have to do that. If there's a great player at whatever position it is, we're not going to say 'Well, we signed Player X so we don't need to draft that position now. It allows us to truly stick to our plan, which is 'Best Available Player.'"
Licht confirmed what many draft analysts already believed. In the sixth edition of the Buccaneers' Mock Draft Roundup, the overwhelming majority believed Tampa Bay would select a corner or a defensive end.
The most popular name listed was former Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, with former Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson and former Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner also receiving multiple votes. Other positions listed include defensive tackle and offensive tackle.
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