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Notre Dame S Smith one to watch as draft approaches

Posted Apr 11, 2012 by Roy Cummings

Updated Apr 11, 2012 at 01:17 PM

The Tampa Tribune

TAMPA – The dismissal Tuesday of the talented yet troubled Tanard Jackson has Buccaneers followers everywhere wondering what the team will do to replace its former starting free safety.

There are plenty of options.

One, of course, is to promote from within, where the Bucs remain very high on Larry Asante and are very intrigued by the playmaking ability of Ahmad Black, the former Gator defender they took in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

There is also free agency to consider. Though the top-level safeties have all been gobbled up, the potential to land a serviceable starter such as O.J. Atogwe or Melvin Bullitt is still there.

And finally there is the draft. This year’s safety class is not an exceptional one, according to scouts, but there are couple of players projected to go in the top three rounds the Bucs may be targeting.

The one Bucs fans may want to get to know more about is Notre Dame free safety Harrison Smith. Most draft analysts have him rated as a second round pick and some have him going in the top 35 overall.

The thing that will make Smith attractive to the Bucs is not only his ability to play either free safety or strong safety but his ability to also play strongside linebacker.

This is a guy who left Notre Dame as the only golden domer ever to record 200 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 15 pass breakups in his career, and he’s a two-time team captain.

The Bucs are big on captains, big on versatility and in need of not only a safety but someone who can help out at linebacker a little bit. Smith provides all of that. Keep your eye on him as the draft approaches.

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