The SBNation Mock Draft went through all 32 picks in the first round of the NFL Draft. Blog writers for each team picked their team's first round pick, giving the reasons why. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fresh off of a free agency spending spree which should help improve offense selected LSU Tigers cornerback Morris Claiborne with the No. 5 overall draft pic according to Bucs Nation.
After a flurry of high-profile free agent signings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have managed to fill a number of needs, eliminating a few prospects from consideration for their fifth overall draft pick. The team still has two major needs it must fill, though, as they need a new starting linebacker and a third-down back who can act as a complement to the limited Legarrette Blount. However, no linebacker or running back on the board would represent great value with the fifth pick. While Luke Kuechly and Trent Richardson are both terrific players, picking 4-3 linebackers or running backs in the top 5 seems like a thing of the past. The Bucs haven't viewed these positions as particularly important in the past, either, mostly relying on mid- to late-round draft picks.
Instead, the Bucs are more likely to select cornerback Morris Claiborne. While the Bucs don't have a huge immediate need at the position with Aqib Talib, Eric Wright and Ronde Barber under contract, the team does not have a lot of certainty at cornerback. Ronde Barber has had a great career, but he's been steadily declining for years. Aqib Talib's various legal problems have been well-documented, and it's not even clear whether the former first-rounder will be able to enjoy his freedom during the season. Add to that possible discipline handed down by Roger Goodell, and the fact that he's entering the final year of his contract and he can't be counted on.
All of this means the Bucs must find a long-term, reliable starter at cornerback at some point in the next year, and Morris Claiborne could easily fit the bill. The LSU cornerback is the best cover cornerback to come out in years, and could immediately start in case of an Aqib Talib jail sentence and/or suspension. Barring that, he'd get a season to learn the ropes with Ronde Barber as a mentor, before becoming a likely starter in 2013. Either way, the Bucs get a good, young player who could be a long-term starter at a position in dire need of stability.
With the No. 7 overall draft pick in the SBNation Mock Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected North Carolina Tarheels defensive end Quinton Coples. A pick like Coples should help the Jaguars in the pass rush department. However, the writer of Big Cat Country says that maybe the right thing to do is to trade down and maybe look at another pass rusher while stockpiling picks.
Picking Coples at seventh overall has become the cliché, boring pick for the Jaguars, but with Morris Claiborne off the board, it's really the only player that makes sense. The Jaguars have lacked a legitimate pass rusher since ... well, forever. Tony Brackens was quite the pass rusher, but he hasn't been on the team since 2003. The failures of Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves from the 2008 Draft only further stagnated the pass rush.
Jeremy Mincey emerged for the team in 2011 with eight sacks, but he's less a pure pass rusher and more an every-down player that forces quarterback pressures with his high motor. Even if he does continue to improve in 2012, though, there is no pass rusher on the roster to have much faith in on the other side of the line.
A 6-6, 284 pound athletic freak like Coples is a risky, home-run type of pick, but the Jaguars need more star power and need to swing for the fences to find stars. In my opinion, the best idea would be for the Jaguars to trade down 10-15 picks and go after another pass rusher like Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus.
With the No. 8 overall draft pick in the SBNation Mock Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Ryan Tannehill. While Tannehill has been the topic of much debate when it comes to whether or not he is ready to be a quarterback in the NFL, the Dolphins have two veteran quarterbacks already under contract, so the decision to draft Tannehill and sit him for at least a year and perhaps two could work in their favor.
Taking Tannehill here may not be a popular choice among Miami Dolphins fans. He's a reach at the eight spot, and I would agree with many fans that he may not be worth taking here. But, the Dolphins need a quarterback, and he's the top one left on the board.
There's a good possibility that the Dolphins could look at Melvin Ingram at this position as well, and I would love that pick. He's the perfect pass rusher the Dolphins need to pair with Cameron Wake. But, in the end, the need for a quarterback outweighs the pros for picking Ingram.
The Dolphins know Tannehill, having his head coach, Mike Sherman, as the team's new offensive coordinator. If they believe he is capable of being a franchise quarterback, then I am all for this pick -- even if it is a reach in a down quarterback draft year.
The actual NFL Draft begins on April 26, in two weeks, starting at 8 p.m. from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
For more on the Jacksonville Jaguars, visit Big Cat Country. For more on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, visit Bucs Nation. For more on the Miami Dolphins, visit The Phinsider. For more on all of the Florida teams, stay tuned to SB Nation Tampa Bay.