Buccaneers Draft Need: Cornerback

In the first of a series of articles profiling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2008 NFL Draft needs, Matthew Postins examines what the Bucs have at a key position, who they could draft and what kind of impact that player could have. Also, look for links to stories, video and audio of players the Bucs could draft throughout the article.

CORNERBACK

WHAT THE BUCS HAVE

Ronde Barber (starter), Phillip Buchanon (starter), Eugene Wilson, Sammy Davis, Torrie Cox, Darrell Hunter and Marcus Hamilton.

WHY THE NEED?

Barber will be 33 on opening day this year, and Buchanon, while coming off a fine year in 2007, is in the final year of his contract (it could be extended). Wilson, who signed last week as a free agent, only inked a one-year deal and his deal dragged out over whether he would move to cornerback or not. After that, the pickings are slim. Davis and Cox do well in spot duty, but you don't want to rely on either for an extended period of time. Hunter and Hamilton are strictly projects at this point.

What the Bucs are really in need of is that cornerback of the future, a player that could contribute as a nickel back this year and eventually take Barber's place in three years.

THE TOP FIVE

Here are the top five cornerbacks in this draft, according to Scout.com:

Mike Jenkins (5-foot-11, 200 pounds), South Florida — Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is clearly enamored with Jenkins, who can play both man and zone effectively. He's a first-round pick.

Leodis McKelvin (5-foot-10 ½, 186 pounds), Troy — He impressed scouts with his ability to go up against players from bigger schools at the Senior Bowl. Plus, he can return kicks and punts. He's another first-round pick.

Aqib Talib (6-foot-1, 195 pounds), Kansas — Rose to prominence this year. He's seen as more of a shutdown, man cornerback than a system cornerback. Still, he's a solid first-round value.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (6-foot-1 ½, 183 pounds), Tennessee State — Like McKelvin, he had to prove himself at the Senior Bowl. Like McKelvin, he did. He has the ball-hawking skills of his cousin, San Diego's Antonio Cromartie.

Tyvon Branch (5-foot-11 ½, 194 pounds) — Right behind Jenkins in the pecking order of Big East cornerbacks. What sticks out immediately is his 4.45 speed in the 40. He can be had in the second round.

GET TO KNOW THEM

Want to know more about these prospects, plus other CBs the Bucs could be interested in? Check out the links below.

Here's more on USF's Pro Day, including links to a story on Jenkins and a USFNationTV feature on the first-round prospect..

Here's our exclusive Q&A with Arizona CB Antonie Cason, the Thorpe Award winner for the 2007 season.

Here's more from McKelvin's workout in Troy, Ala., one the Bucs attended.

Kansas State's Justin McKinney has more in common with the Bucs than just Tampa. Find out more in this article.

Learn more about Cason by watching a this Scout.com Video clip from his Combine press conference:



Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.


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