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Bucs’ Post-Free-Agency Needs?
Posted Mar 8, 2012 by Luke Easterling
Updated Mar 8, 2012 at 12:48 PM
When you’re picking #5 overall in the NFL Draft, chances are that you’ve got more than one position that needs upgrading, and the Bucs are no exception. But before we can truly nail down what the Bucs will need in the draft, it’s important to think about which of those needs could possibly be filled during free agency. As I’m sure you’re aware of by now, the Bucs have plenty of cap space and there are quite a few attractive options at positions that could use some improving for the Pewter Pirates. Filling some of those needs during that period will also help allow the Bucs to possibly just use the #5 pick on the best player available, which is always a better strategy than reaching for need.
Here is a look at some of the possible free agency targets for the Bucs, and how those acquisitions could impact their draft strategy:
1. Cortland Finnegan/Brandon Carr, CB - Should the Bucs end up snagging one of these two top free agent corners, it could lessen the need to use the #5 pick on LSU’s Morris Claiborne. If, however, the Bucs decide to sign a free agent corner from the second tier (Aaron Ross, Tracy Porter), the Bucs would still be very likely to give Claiborne strong consideration.
2. Vincent Jackson, WR - If the Bucs do decide that they need to spend big on a vertical threat in the passing game, Jackson is definitely the cream of this year’s free agency crop in that department. With some projecting that the Bucs would have interest in Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon at with the #5 pick, it’s possible that they could take that interest and instead throw big money at Jackson, who is a proven deep threat.
3. Curtis Lofton/Dan Connor/Stephen Tulloch, MLB - There’s already been plenty of talk about the Bucs’ interest in signing a free agent MLB, which would allow them to move 2nd-year man Mason Foster to the outside, where they believe he is better suited. Any of these three players would be a serious upgrade at the heart of the Bucs’ defense, but if they fail to snag one of them, it could cause the LB position to move up the ladder in terms of draft preparations. In that scenario, while there’s no player at LB that would make sense at the #5 pick, the Bucs could give a strong look to players like Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower or Arizona State’s Vontaze Burfict at the top of the 2nd round.
4. Carl Nicks, G - Signing a superior lineman such as Nicks would be the best possible move for the Bucs in free agency, because it would still keep plenty of options open for the #5 pick while at the same time solidifying a position of need. Nicks would instantly improve both the run-blocking and pass-protecting prowess of the offensive line as a whole, which is paramount in the development of the young offensive skill players that the Bucs have.
5. LaRon Landry, S - The Bucs need an upgrade over Sean Jones at safety, and Landry hitting the market could be a huge win for the Bucs if they can sign him. If they’re not able to grab the former #6 overall pick from LSU, it will remain paramount that they address the position as early in the draft as possible. They wouldn’t use the #5 selection on a safety, but Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith and South Carolina’s Antonio Allen could make sense in the next two rounds.
What do you think, TBO Nation? Are there other free agent signings that could greatly impact the Bucs’ draft plans? Which direction would YOU like to seem them go? Sound off in the comment section.