For months speculation has swirled about whom the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will target in the 2008 NFL Draft.
The who is tricky, as teams are nearly as liable to select a player they've never met with as they are to select a player they've hosted at their facility.
But what positions are the Buccaneers targeting? That's a little easier to detect, if you know where to look.
The best place to start is the Bucs' visit and private workout list. Scout.com's Adam Caplan has kept track of player visits and workouts for every NFL team and he recently shared that list with Bucsblitz.com. The results, Caplan said, can shed light on the Bucs' draft strategy.
So far, Caplan has 27 players on his list. Of those 27, 20 are on offense.
So it's safe to say that the Bucs have their eye on offensive players in this draft, something most experts have reported all along. What's more telling is the number of wide receivers the Bucs have hosted for visits for worked out privately — 10. That's half of their offensive visits and workouts.
That tells Caplan something right there.
"For example, as I noted in the blog, the Buccaneers have now worked out or visited with at least 10 receivers," Caplan said. "The receiver they are targeting may not be on that list but the fact that they are spending so much time with them makes me believe they will wind up using an early round pick on one."
Some of those visits have already been reported — California's DeSean Jackson and LaVelle Hawkins, Houston's Donnie Avery, Texas' Limas Sweed and Florida's Andre Caldwell, who will visit the Bucs on Thursday.
The Bucs have also met with Hawaii's Davone Bess and Richmond's Arman Shields. They've held private workouts with Appalachian State's Dexter Jackson, Michigan's Adrian Arrington and Louisville's Mario Urrutia.
This may not be the complete list, Caplan concedes. But it's a mix of potential first-round talent and mid-round value. The list is also heavy on players that could be potential kickoff and punt returners, such as DeSean and Dexter Jackson.
The Bucs have also spent plenty of time with cornerbacks. The Bucs have hosted six different cornerbacks — Iowa's Charles Godfrey, Virginia Tech's Brandon Flowers, Kent State's Jack Williams, Boise State's Orlando Scandrick, Indiana's Tracy Porter and Troy's Leodis McKelvin. This list doesn't include their private workout with South Florida's Mike Jenkins.
The number of meetings, Caplan said, creates speculation about need.
"You can also look at the cornerbacks and see it's possible they are looking to take one early who could eventually replace Ronde Barber," Caplan said. "That's what I alluded to in the Pre-Draft Needs piece."
Barber will be 33 on opening day, and the depth at the position is thin. McKelvin, Jenkins and Flowers are potential first-round picks, while many consider Godfrey a great fit for the Cover 2. Arizona's Antoine Cason is considered a good fit as well, but has already had contact on two separate occasions with the Bucs — at the combine and his pro day — and will not visit.
So it stands to reason that the Bucs may do exactly what many suspect they will on the first day of the NFL Draft, which is two rounds this year — take a wide receiver and a cornerback, though not necessarily in that order.
Three running backs have visited, according to Caplan — Texas' Jamaal Charles, Oregon's Jonathan Stewart and East Carolina's Chris Johnson. All are considered first- or second-round picks, so they could provide a curveball to the belief that wide receiver and cornerback are the Bucs' primary first-day targets.
The Bucs have spent an inordinate amount of time with offensive linemen, given that they're relatively set at the position. They've met with Kansas' Anthony Collins, Virginia's Branden Albert, Virginia Tech's Duane Brown and Vanderbilt's Chris Williams. They've also worked out Rutgers' Jeremy Zuttah privately. Most of them are players that can play both guard and tackle, so they may be looking for depth.
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.