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Friday, Sep 22, 2017
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Martin Fennelly Columns

Bucs shouldn't try to do more with less

It's a position of strength. You just went 4-12, but it's a position of strength. That's what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to keep saying during tonight's NFL draft. None of this trading up from No. 5 stuff. You don't subtract picks.
If anything, you add them. Trading down is an option, a good one. If Morris Claiborne is there when the Bucs pick at No. 5, take him. If Trent Richardson is there, too, take Claiborne. Unless you think Richardson is in a class by himself (maybe) and will never get injured (forget it), trade down. I'm not jumping over anyone, mortgaging much of anything for either man. No trading second-round picks. A third-rounder maybe, but that won't be the scenario. It's a scary thing, when how you draft possibly hinges on what Minnesota does at 3. Aren't the Vikings the ones who once lost a draft pick because their time on the clock ran out? There now appears a chance Minnesota might take Claiborne at No.3. The Browns, at No. 4, like Richardson. The Bucs would still be in a position of strength at 5. Jump to No. 3? It would cost too much, and this team could get a running back later, for sure. Claiborne would have to be the man — and has anyone said that yet? By the way, the Bucs' last No. 3 pick was Gerald McCoy and that cat can't stay on the field. Yeah, a running back has a better chance at not getting beaten up. The Bucs can still get the best receiver in the draft, Justin Blackmon, or the best offensive lineman, Matt Kalil, or the best linebacker, Luke Kuechly. Blackmon is my guy in that bunch, another offensive weapon for the upcoming Josh Freeman acid test. Or trade down and pick up a different cornerback and get another pick, maybe from the Rams, who badly want Blackmon. I'm not taking Kalil, I'm shopping the pick and moving down before I take him. I would think the Bills, in need of earth movers, would move up from 10 in a heartbeat. I'm not taking Kuechly at 5. I just don't see an inside linebacker that high. The Bucs traded up to get Freeman in 2009. But moving up to 3 would cost more than what moving up for Freeman did, a lot more. In theory, a No. 5 should be a perennial Pro Bowler. Yes, you can miss in the top 10 of the draft. You can miss in the top 5. You can miss at No. 1. Bucs history teaches us all of that. The Bucs are one of only two NFL teams to hit the Hall of Fame jackpot on the first pick in franchise history, with Lee Roy Selmon (the Cowboys' first-ever pick was another defensive tackle, Bob Lilly). But there is this: There have been nine top-five draft picks in Bucs history and they've combined for six Pro Bowls with the team — and Lee Roy has all six, the last in 1984. That's 27 years without a Pro Bowl for top-five Bucs picks. That is simply astonishing. Blackmon is the guy I'd take at 5 if Claiborne and Richardson are gone. True, I just checked and the Bucs have drafted two receivers in the first round: Reidel Anthony and Michael Clayton. I still say Blackmon — or trade down and add a pick. Just don't do any major subtraction today, there are too many holes. You can pick a winner at 5. It's just a matter of being right.


WHEN/WHERE: Through Saturday/Radio City Music Hall, New York City

TV: ESPN, NFL Network

SCHEDULE: Thursday - Round 1 at 8 p.m.; Friday – Rounds 2-3 at 7 p.m.; Saturday – Rounds 4-7, noon

BUCS PICKS: Round 2 – No. 4 (36 overall); Round 3 – No. 5 (68 overall); Round 4 – none; Round 5 – No. 5 (140 overall); Round 6 – No. 4 (174 overall); Round 7 – No. 5 (212 overall).

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