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NFL Mock Draft 2013: Buccaneers select Sheldon Richardson

Tampa Bay could be on the edge of being competitive again, but will need to find an impact player in the first round of the draft. Is Richardson that player?

Ed Zurga

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished 7-9 in 2012 after losing five of their last six games and having one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. The Bucs allowed the most passing yards in the NFL, while opposing quarterbacks had 30 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, with the Bucs losing shootouts more often than they won any. Many have speculated that this could cause the Buccaneers to draft a cornerback in the NFL draft or trade for Darrelle Revis, but it is still just speculation.

Also speculation: Tampa doesn't take a cornerback with their first round pick.

While it is true that Tampa Bay is in need of help in the secondary, it is also true that they are in need of help in other areas. Losing five of six games doesn't solely fall on one group of players. If Tampa Bay does land the disgruntled Revis from the Jets, it will likely cost them at least the 13th overall pick that they hold in the draft. If they don't trade for Revis, is any corner worth a pick that high other than Dee Milliner? Many experts are saying no, and there seems to be a fat chance that Milliner would get out of the top ten.

So that would mean that unless the Bucs trade down or take a cornerback higher than most expect, it could cause them to select a player from another position. Perhaps one like defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson out of Missouri. That is what Rob Rang of CBS Sports has projected in his latest mock draft:

It has long been rumored that the Bucs will ship this pick to the New York Jets as part of a trade for cornerback Darrelle Revis. That doesn't necessarily mean the team will use this pick on a cornerback should the trade not occur. Perhaps due in part to their inability to defend the pass, the Bucs led the NFL in rush defense in 2012, allowing just 82.5 yards per game. That's why it is surprising the team elected to allow half of their front four (defensive end Michael Bennett, defensive tackle Roy Miller) to leave town as relatively inexpensive free agents. I believe it is an indication that the Bucs plan to invest heavily on the defensive line via the draft, potentially starting in the first round with Richardson.

Adding an impact player on defense at any position should theoretically help other units anyway. So if Richardson is the consolation prize for a player like Revis or Milliner, that would not be that bad.

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Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.