Buccaneers 2013 Mock Draft: The Smartest Pick Tampa Bay Can Make for Every Spot

J.J. Rodriguez@ActofRodContributor IIJanuary 7, 2013

Oct 6, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Johnthan Banks (13) during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium. Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Having won just 11 of their last 32 games, it would seemingly be hard for anyone to argue that the Buccaneers are headed in the right direction.

However, the prevailing theory is that if they can improve their last-place pass defense, it would go a long way towards righting the ship and at the very least, improving their chances for success.

So where do they start? Between impending free agency and the draft, the Bucs will have a myriad of decisions to make regarding the direction and makeup of their defense in 2013.

That said, finding improvements is not nearly as foolproof as one would hope it would be.

The Bucs signed cornerback Eric Wright to a lucrative deal last March, but they are believed to be preparing to part ways with him after just one disappointing season, which included a four-game suspension for testing positive for PEDs.

Though fans generally approve of free-agency activity, the draft still appears to be the franchise's best shot at landing high-ceiling, low (financial) risk talent to improve its beleaguered defensive unit.

With that in mind, here are the smartest picks the Bucs can make with their upcoming seven draft selections. 

Round 1, 13th overall—CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

Though he may be a bit of a stretch at 13, the Bucs need cornerbacks in the worst way and could certainly use the services of the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award winner.

Blessed with great size (6'2") and long arms, Banks would step in as the starting CB and provide an immediate upgrade over everyone else on the roster.

Round 2, 43rd overall—CB David Amerson, North Carolina State

Much like Banks, Amerson is a tall (6'2"), lengthy defensive back with 4.5 speed who has shown a knack for capitalizing on miscues. ESPN's Scouts Inc. has him rated as "exceptional" or "above-average" on all eight of its grading criteria.

Round 3, 73rd overall—Safety Devonte Holloman, South Carolina

With the fate of the soon-to-be 38-year-old Ronde Barber still very much unknown, the Bucs should look for his (eventual) replacement in Holloman.

Described as a "safety in a linebackers body," Holloman, at 6'2" and 235 pounds, would provide a physical presence in run support but is still quick and agile enough to assist in the passing game as well.  

Round 4, 109th overall—Quarterback Ryan Nassib, Syracuse

With the play of current Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman in constant flux, the Bucs are all but certain to draft someone who can "push" Freeman next season and beyond.

For his part, Nassib (6'3", 228 pounds) is someone who could very easily provide the push or eventually replace the enigmatic Freeman.

Round 4, 124th* overall—Defensive end Margus Hunt, Southern Methodist University

*This pick is from New England and their exact draft position is unknown at this point 

The Estonian-born Hunt is a mountain of a man, standing every bit of 6'8" and weighing in at 275 pounds.

Though relatively new to football (didn't play American football until 2007), Hunt put on a clinic against Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl, recording four tackles and two sacks, including one for a safety.

Hunt is loaded with tons of upside and would be worth a look if available with this pick.  

Round 5, 140th overall—Outside linebacker Kenny Tate, Maryland

Though injuries have led his stock to fall, Tate (6'4", 230 pounds) has the size and speed worthy enough of a mid-to-late round pick and would likely shine as a member of special teams early on.

With linebacker Quincy Black recovering from a shoulder injury, the Bucs could certainly use depth at the position.

Round 6, 171st overall—Receiver Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech

Though rated as the 17th-best receiving prospect by Scouts Inc., Patton (6'2", 195 pounds) will let his production speak for itself, having hauled in 104 receptions for 1,392 yards and 13 TDs in 2012.

With the Bucs looking for a slot receiver to supplement fellow wideouts Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, Patton could step in an provide just the right target for Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay offense.

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