As we countdown the top 5 needs for the Bucs heading into the NFL Draft, we start with a position that has been as drastically changed as any on the Bucs roster:
This off-season, the new regime at One Buc Place swore that Darrelle Revis was a fit for any defense, yet they released the All Pro saving the franchise $16 million against the cap. While losing a talent like Revis is tough for any team to take, the new Bucs defense under Lovie Smith does not need one cornerback on their roster taking up as much cap space as Revis was.
The Bucs would almost simultaneously sign former Titans Pro Bowl corner Alterraun Verner who instantly becomes the Bucs top corner on the roster. The other addition at corner during the off-season has been former USF star Mike Jenkins who will compete for a starting position in Lovie Smith’s defense. With Johnthan Banks returning for his 2nd season, the need at corner for the Bucs is not as dire as some other positions, but in this era of the NFL, an NFL team can never have enough quality corners.
While I do not believe the Bucs would target a corner in the first 3 rounds of the NFL Draft, the only name that might intrigue me in round 2 would be TCU’s Jason Verrett. Verrett is a standout player who might be the best overall corner in this draft, but his lack of size (5’9” 189 lbs) will force him to slide in the draft. Verrett’s technique and instincts are probably 2nd to none in this draft. Again, corner is not a desperate need for the Bucs and a drafting of Verrett in round 2 would be extremely unlikely, his fit in Lovie Smith’s defense can not be disputed.
If the Bucs look to drafting a corner, I’d expect it to come on the draft’s 3rd day in the 5th, 6th, or 7th round. One intriguing name to keep an eye on will be Aaron Colvin of Oklahoma. Colvin tore his ACL during senior bowl practices, but was projected as a potential 2nd round selection. Late round picks always seem to be fliers, so if the Bucs are willing to redshirt Colvin on Injured Reserve for a year, the reward might be quite fulfilling.
Another name the Bucs might consider late in the draft is NC State’s Dontae Johnson. Johnson has excellent size (6’2” 200 lbs) and ran a 4.45 40-yard dash. Johnson lacks ideal instincts and is not very fluid as a corner, but his overall potential might be attractive enough for a defensive mind like Lovie Smith to grab him in the 6th round.
One more name to remember might be Vanderbilt’s Andre Hal. Hal is not the biggest (5’10” 188 lbs) or fastest (4.5), but he is an extremely competitive cornerback who works his butt off. Hal is a confident player who will need to fine tune his technique to become a true contributor in the NFL. Lovie Smith has proven during his time with the Bears that he’ll take smaller cornerbacks and allow them to flourish in his system.
We’ll continue the Bucs Needs Countdown on Tuesday with Linebackers.
Follow Justin Pawlowski on twitter @Commishonline for updates on the NFL Draft and the Bucs.