The Tampa Buccaneers have holes everywhere you look, but one glaring need stands above the rest.
Based on ProFootballFocus.com’s grading system, 11 of the 12 Buccaneers defensive backs to see the field in 2011 performed below average, the lone exception being former 1st-round pick Aqib Talib. But Talib has his own issues off the field, and who knows how long the new coaching staff will put up with his antics. Additionally, the two veterans of the group – Ronde Barber and Sean Jones – are set to become free agents.
If possible, the Bucs should wipe the slate clean and bring in a brand new batch of defensive backs. Realistically, they should aim to bring in at least one veteran free agent and add some prospects in the draft.
The best case scenario on draft day would be for Morris Claiborne to fall to them at No. 5. He would immediately give the Bucs a true No. 1 cornerback, allowing them to gradually fill in the holes around him.
If Claiborne is gone, things get more complicated. While there should be a number of quality prospects available at the beginning of Round 2, none would have a dramatic immediate impact. The Bucs would be left to chose one of two paths: select a guy with the upside to develop into a shutdown corner (Stephon Gilmore for example) or add a more polished product who can contribute immediately, but may have less long-term upside (such as Chase Minnifield).