First round — No. 20 overall
Mock Draft 2.0 selection: Jenkins
Mock Draft 3.0 selection: Jenkins
Why?: I've stuck with Jenkins in my past two mock drafts, and I don't see any reason to change at this point.
If you look at the cornerbacks in this draft, the position is top-heavy with talent and potential. There are six players that could earn first-round selections — Jenkins, Troy's Leodis McKelvin, Tennessee State's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Arizona's Antoine Cason, Kansas' Aqib Talib and Virginia Tech's Brandon Flowers.
Now, the Bucs have met with McKelvin and Flowers. I have a source that says Cason will be part of the conversation if he's available in the first round. And Jenkins has worked out with the Bucs and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin loves the guy. That, I think, will put Jenkins over the top when the Bucs are on the clock. If this is a defensive pick, Jon Gruden will listen to Kiffin, since he pretty much runs the defense on his own. Kiffin knows what he needs and what he needs is a corner that he can groom to eventually replace Ronde Barber, who's 33, and can step in and bolster that position's depth immediately. Jenkins still has some things to improve on, but I think he has a high ceiling and will excel in the Cover 2 system.
Alternate theory: Does this mean the Bucs will go defense in round 1? Not necessarily. I wouldn't be surprised if they go with a wide receiver here. They've visited and worked out 10 of them, and three are considered first-round picks — Cal's DeSean Jackson, Texas' Limas Sweed and Michigan State's Devin Thomas. It could be a strong indication they're leaning that way. But my reasoning for going defense instead of offense here is simple. I have a lot more confidence that Jenkins, three years down the road, will be a starter than I do Jackson or Thomas or Sweed, and if you're going to spend a first-round pick, you'd better be sure. I worry about Jackson's durability at the NFL level, as he's only 169 pounds. Thomas has only started one year of college football. That lack of track record concerns me. It's the college equivalent of a pro's contract year. You know, when a player due a new contract, has a big year, gets the deal and then doesn't live up to it? Sweed strikes me as a one-note receiver (red zone).
There aren't many players I could see them deviating from these two positions to select, but the Bucs are a team that likes to go for the best player on their board on draft day. Three players to watch in this regard are Vanderbilt OT Chris Williams, East Carolina RB Chris Johnson and Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart. All three have met with the Bucs are could be in their wheelhouse at No. 20. Williams could be their left tackle of the future, while Stewart, once healthy, could give the Bucs a more physical presence in the backfield until Carnell Williams returns. He would also offer protection if Williams is unable to come back period. Keep in mind that Earnest Graham has not received a contract extension, even though the Bucs have said since January they want to get one done. Johnson is another local product (Orlando area) who can help in the return game as well.
One other player to keep in mind is USC DE Lawrence Jackson. He's the only end the Bucs have hosted at their facility. Now, I don't believe he'll be selected here, but the Bucs do need to improve their pass rush (they had just 32 a year ago). Let's say Jenkins, DeSean Jackson and Williams are off the board by No. 20, which is not likely. But if they are, the USC product could be a solid — and surprising — choice here.
Did you miss his previous selections? Access the other four rounds right here:
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.