By Jeff Berlinicke
TAMPA – It's only a matter of time now before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the clock. That's NFL-speak for saying that the Bucs have to finally decide what to do with their coveted No. 5 selection in Saturday's NFL Draft.
Things haven't changed since speculation heated up last week that the team was maneuvering with the Miami Dolphins for the second pick in the draft so that it would select Utah quarterback Alex Smith. Smith could possibly still be available at No. 5 as could California quarterback Aaron Rogers, but it's doubtful. Teams picking ahead of the Bucs – San Francisco, Miami, Cleveland, and Chicago – all are in need of quarterbacks, but when you have picks at those high positions, chances are you had a bad enough football team that there are glaring needs everywhere.
Most mock drafts have the Bucs taking Auburn running back Robbie Brown at No. 5. Brown didn't even start throughout his career at Auburn, playing backup to Cadillac Williams, who is another potential Bucs choice, but Brown stunned the NFL combine with his 4.3 speed. He played four years at Auburn, but as a backup he didn't take the beating that most big-time running backs to in college.
Williams is another possibility as is Texas running back Cedric Benson or former Southern California wide receiver Michael Williams. Michigan's Braylon Edwards would be a perfect fit in Tampa as the best athlete in the draft, but he'll likely go to Chicago with the No. 4 pick.
Bucs coach Jon Gruden has made it clear that offense is a top priority, and the Bucs signed incumbent quarterback Brian Griese to a contract extension last month. Griese played well after inheriting the starter's job by default last season and, for a team that is woefully over the salary cap, drafting a quarterback to sit on the bench for two years wouldn't make a lot of sense since there are needs at every part of the offense.
Rogers' stock has fallen in the past week and there is speculation that Smith could end up in San Francisco with Rogers falling into the Bucs laps at No. 5. Of course the 49ers, who have needs at every position could trade down for extra picks, throwing the whole scenario into the air.
Here's my top 5 as of 8 a.m. on Friday, but, bear in mind, it could all change by 8:05:
1. San Francisco – Aaron Rogers, QB California
2. Miami – Alex Smith, QB Utah.
3. Cleveland – Derrick Johnson, LB Texas
4. Chicago – Braylon Edwards, WR Michigan
5. Tampa Bay – Ronnie Brown, RB Auburn.
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