With the fifth pick of Pride of Detroit's 2012 NFL mock draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Twincities88 is serving as the Buccaneers' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
Despite already having cornerbacks Ronde Barber, Aqib Talib and the newly signed Eric Wright on the roster, the cornerback position is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) needs for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason. The career of veteran Ronde Barber is coming to a close as his age (36) is catching up to his performance. Aqib Talib has been dealing with legal issues since last year and is likely to face a suspension from commissioner Roger Goodell.
So far during the offseason, Tampa Bay has addressed some needs on offense with the acquisitions of Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Jamon Meredith. Except for the acquisition of cornerback Eric Wright, the team has yet to address the visible gaps in the defense. In addition, the Buccaneers play in the NFC South, which is full of franchise quarterbacks. For the Buccaneers to end up back at the top of the division, they need to slow down Matt Ryan and pro bowlers Cam Newton and Drew Bees. The Buccaneers are in need of finding a long-term, reliable starter at cornerback.
Morris Claiborne, the 2011 Jim Thorpe award winner, was overshadowed by fellow LSU teammates Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. During his final year at LSU, Claiborne recorded 51 tackles and six interceptions, along with averaging 25.1 yards per kick return with one touchdown. Interestingly, Ron Cooper, Claiborne's defensive backs coach at LSU, was hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in February 2012 as the team's defensive backs coach.
Claiborne is the top rated CB on everyone's board. Claiborne is a good, young player who has the right combination of size, athleticism and instincts that makes him an immediate starter for a team that has too many questions at the cornerback position.
Check out the 2012 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.