With the fifth pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU.
After an incredibly disappointing and underachieving season in which they went 4-12 and fired head coach Raheem Morris -- once touted as a top young coach in the NFL -- the Bucs look to be rebuilding under new coach Greg Schiano. They have holes to fill in a number of areas, and one of those is the secondary, where an impact player like Morris Claiborne from LSU can pay instant dividends.
Ronde Barber, the ageless veteran corner, is back after signing a one-year contract. Tampa also added former Lions CB Eric Wright (four interceptions in 2011) in free agency to shore up the position. With uncertainty surrounding the status of Aqib Talib, who has legal matters to deal with, Claiborne is the shut-down corner type who can come in and start right away, or at least play a major role on a defense that ranked dead last in points allowed in the NFL and was 30th in total yards per game allowed at 394.4.
Claiborne will be the safe and solid pick with his good speed, outstanding man-to-man coverage skills, absence of character issues and ability to return kicks and punts. He's 5-11, 188 pounds, but plenty of other corners his size and smaller have gone on to some big things in the NFL. Claiborne comes from a national powerhouse of a college program and played alongside Arizona Cardinals star Patrick Peterson, so you know that LSU secondary was top-notch when they were there.
The Bucs need help across the board and they might be tempted to go after big-time receiver Justin Blackmon, but the defense seems to be more of an immediate concern for Schiano and his staff. It's too early a pick to choose a running back, and this is a big year for quarterback Josh Freeman, who needs to bounce back.
The St. Louis Rams are on the clock. Bryan Gibberman will make the selection for them.
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