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Combine 40 times may sway Bucs most importnat draft-day decision

Posted Feb 18, 2013 by Roy Cummings

Updated Feb 18, 2013 at 05:08 PM

Tribune Staff

TAMPA – The 40-yard dash is always one of the most highly watched events at the NFL Scouting Combine and you can bet the Buccaneers brass will be watching it closely when the cornerbacks run it this year.

The speeds that cornerback prospects Dee Milliner of Alabama, Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State and Desmond Trufant of Washington post could determine whether the Bucs use the 13th overall pick on a corner or opt for something else.

That, at least, is how analyst and draft expert Mike Mayock sees the situation possibly playing out.

Mayock said during a conference call with NFL media on Monday that he doesn’t see Milliner as a top-10 prospect right now, but that his opinion would change if Milliner were to run a sub-4.5-second 40 at the combine.

And while Mayock doesn’t currently consider either Banks or Trufant to be first-round worthy talents, he said his opinion would likely change on that front as well if either were to run a sub 4.5 40.

“If either (Banks or Trufant) can run in that 4.42 or 4.44 range, both could be a potential (pick for the Bucs) at 13,’’ Mayock said. “It’s a little high, a little earlier than you like, but Banks has got range and he tackles well.

“He’s the one guy that, if he can run well he could be worthy of a 13th pick. People like his length (Banks stands 6-foot-2) and he’s got some press (coverage) ability. But he’s going to have to run in that 4.4 range.’’

If NFL scouts are thinking the same way Mayock is a poor 40-time by Milliner and a good 40-times by either Banks, Trufant or both could leave the Bucs with a choice or cornerback prospects to choose from at No. 13.

Of course, the opposite could prove true, too. A good 40-time by Milliner and less than stellar times by Banks and Trufant may force the Bucs to opt for something other than a cornerback with the 13th pick.

Mayock agrees with a lot of other draft analysts that a linebacker such as Alec Ogletree of Georgia or Manti Te’o of Notre Dame might be a good fit at that spot for the Bucs.

Both are considered to be very good in coverage and NFL ready, which means either could step in as the starting middle linebacker, allowing Mason Foster to move to the strongside spot as a replacement for Quincy Black.

A move like that might improve the Bucs pass coverage almost as much as adding a corner because Foster has often struggled in coverage, particularly deep down the seam against both wideouts tight ends.

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