2012 NFL Mock Draft: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select...

STARKVILLE, MS - SEPTEMBER 15: Cornerback Morris Claiborne #17 of the LSU Tigers intercepts a pass against Mississipppi State in the fourth quarter on September 15, 2011 at Davis Wade stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)

Representing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Falcon58 with the fifth pick in Arrowhead Pride's 2012 NFL mock draft...

After patiently waiting to see if Matt Kalil would fall past the Vikings (and whether Aqib Talib's trial results in jail time), the Buccaneers decide to select cornerback Morris ‘Mo' Claiborne from LSU. This pick is a surprise to no one, except maybe half of the readers at Bucs Nation who are clamoring for Trent ‘T-Train' Richardson, ("CHOO CHOO!") and follows the expectations of most of the mock drafts floating around the internet.

In truth, this is the correct pick and a solid selection. Claiborne is arguably the top rated cornerback in this year's draft and is expected to be a Pro Bowl, lockdown cornerback in the NFL. He came to LSU as a wide receiver, but was quickly switched to cornerback. In his sophomore year, he was paired with 2011 draft pick Patrick Peterson and formed the best CB duo in school history, probably in the country. It's been said that Peterson's draft stock may have been inflated by Claiborne's ability rather than the opposite. Mo's play in 2011 seems to give some validation to this assertion. Claiborne is great in man coverage and has great hands and speed. He might still be a little physically underdeveloped, but a few years' worth of an NFL strength training problem will correct that. His long arms and ferocity will give him the ability to disrupt passes and make tackles. He'll miss a few and will have to work on getting his head around to find the ball and avoid penalties.

Examining the Buccaneers roster prior to the draft reveals that the cornerback position is a major concern and therefore justifies this selection. Aqib Talib currently has a court date scheduled for the week prior to the draft and it is uncertain whether Talib will face jail time as a result of the charges. Even if he doesn't, there is still the possibility that he will be suspended by the NFL for violating their conduct policy. It probably won't be more than two to four games, but that would potentially be a quarter of the regular season and when you're talking about your #1 CB, that's a lot of time. The NFL is a passing league after all.

After Talib, the Buccaneers have signed free agent CB Eric Wright, previously of the Lions and Bears. Wright can be a solid #2 cornerback if necessary. He can start opposite of Claiborne if Talib is gone for any length of time and the Bucs will probably be okay. Ronde Barber is back for his 16th season and currently owns the longest active starting streak in the NFL at 199. Still, my inner Jim Carrey screams, "Barber is OLD! He should have got out of the game years ago, but he hates his wife."


Okay, maybe that was his brother, Tiki, but the rest is valid. He's going to be 37 on April 7th. I've loved Barber, but this feels more like a charity signing because of how the Bucs handled the Derrick Brooks situation. Barber is the last remaining link to that 2002 Super Bowl winning team and maybe he's just coming back as a mascot. They will probably use him in the nickel cornerback slot during the season; though it could be possible they move him to free safety. Either way, this is probably Ronde's retirement tour.

In the end, Claiborne is the best choice in the top 5, more important than the chance at a stud LT or potentially overpaying for a RB that will split carries with LeGarrette Blount. If Talib is available in the 2012 season, the Buccaneers will have one of the best CB duos in the league, which will echo Claiborne's sophomore season at LSU. And that was a pretty good year.

***

Previously...

1. Indianapolis Colts - Baylor QB Robert Griffin III

2. Washington Redskins - Stanford QB Andrew Luck

3. Minnesota Vikings - USC OT Matt Kalil

4. Cleveland Browns - Alabama RB Trent Richardson

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