ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper released his latest mock draft today. In that, despite the growing popular thought that Morris Claiborne could be selected by the Buccaneers, he has the Bucs selecting Alabama RB Trent Richardson with the No. 5 pick.
I'll say it again -- don't simply dismiss the idea that Richardson could land here because of the presence of LaGarrette Blount. A great running team now needs more than one good back, and Richardson is by far the best back on the board this year. As well, if the Bucs are going with a "best player available" mantra early on -- very possible given a wide range of needs -- Richardson would make a lot of sense here. Blount has power, but he's far more limited as an all-around back than Richardson. The Bucs were actually below league average in yards per rush in 2011, and could look to improve there.
Two picks later at No. 7, Kiper has the Jacksonville Jaguars taking North Carolina DE Quinton Coples
If the Jags don't add help at wide receiver in free agency, they could look for help here, but they're also desperate for pass rush help. They sacked opposing quarterbacks fewer than two times a game in 2011, and Coples would fit in the scheme as the top 4-3 defensive end in the draft. He has ideal physical traits, with great length at 6-foot-6, and the size to hold up in the run game, complementing his pass-rush skills. Jacksonville is another team that simply needs to upgrade the talent level, so it shouldn't reach on offense at the cost of adding superior talent.
Finally Kiper has the Miami Dolphins, another two picks later at No. 9, selecting Iowa OT Riley Reiff
The Dolphins will be adding a quarterback, and Reiff helps them finish what could be a solid offensive line in 2012. Reiff's tape was exceptional this past season, and given how complete he is right now, stepping in immediately on the right side shouldn't be a problem. Outside linebacker also makes some sense here, but Miami knows its offense is really close, and Reiff makes the quarterback situation that much more appealing, regardless of who takes the snaps. The Dolphins aced their first-round pick last year, also hitting the O-line. Wouldn't hurt them one bit to double down.
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.