There was a lot of optimism surrounding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leading into the 2011 season. They had finished with a 10-6 record in 2010, and had barley missed the playoffs. And after a 4-2 start to their 2011 season, the Buccaneers were neck and neck with division rivals Saints and Falcons. The optimism was short lived as they dropped their last ten games of the season to finish at a disappointing 4-12 and find themselves drafting at the fifth pick in this upcoming draft.
In the 2012 off-season, the Buccaneers need to address:
1) Addressing the 32nd ranked run defense: The Buccaneers where dead last when it came to run defense. I believe this was simply due to lack of experience. In 2010, they drafted two defensive tackles in the first two rounds, being Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. In 2011, they drafted two defensive ends in the first two rounds, being Adrian Clayborn who had himself a good rookie season, and Da’Quan Bowers who was a top ten prospect going into the 2011 draft and fell to 52nd to the Buccaneers due to a knee injury. They also drafted Mason Foster, a middle linebacker in the 3rd round who had a very impressive rookie season as well. The point is, the defense is young and talented, but they need to get it together. I believe the 2011 season was a season that was full of mistakes, but it was also a season in which they learned a great deal about themselves as a unit.
2) Draft Needs: I believe Tampa Bay has needs on both sides of the ball. The top needs I see is at cornerback and running back. Ronde Barber is a free agent, he’s 36 years of age, and I just don’t know if he will get re-signed. The other problem at cornerback is that the Buccaneers do not have much depth at the position. They are going to need to take a look at a solid corner within the first two rounds of the draft. Running back was an issue as Tampa Bay thought they would have solid production coming from Legarrette Blount. It resulted in having the 30th ranked rushing offense in the league. The top two players I think that could be available to the Tampa Buccaneers at the number five spot in the draft would have to be the Cornerback Morris Claiborne out of LSU and Trent Richardson the running back out of Alabama. Both players are top 10 prospects on 95% of draft boards and I believe either one could bring them production come the 2012 season. At the moment, I have the Buccaneers drafting Trent Richardson but that very well could change with recent news of his minor knee surgery.
3) Other needs: The other needs that the Buccaneers may target in the draft are: Guard, Center, Tight End, and Linebacker depth.
Top Free Agents – 1) Ronde Barber – CB
Written By – David Rantisi- NFL Draft and Scouting Combine Writer
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