Overview: They were mostly spectators in free agency in recent years, but the Bucs came strong when players hit the open market March 13 and quickly reeled in the top wide receiver (Vincent Jackson) and top guard (Carl Nicks) available. They also addressed a need at cornerback by signing Eric Wright, but this is a team that was blown out on a consistent basis last season, when they lost 10 games in a row after starting 4-2. They improved significantly with their free-agent signings, but they still have holes to fill. GM Mark Dominik has indicated that the Bucs are open to trading down in the first round, where they are slated to pick fifth overall, but they are not interested in moving up in the opening round. Tampa Bay also has one pick each in the second, third, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.
Need No. 1: Running back
LeGarrette Blount is in the plans for next season, but the Bucs need to add at least one back, and probably two, to bolster a rushing attack that was too one-dimensional and reliant on Blount last season. Alabama’s Trent Richardson — by far the highest-rated back this year — is expected to be available when the Bucs are on the clock in the first round and he has frequently been linked to the team this offseason. Richardson could quickly become Tampa Bay’s primary back.
Need No. 2: Cornerback/safety
The Bucs added Wright, who started 16 games for the Lions last season, and re-signed 37-year-old Ronde Barber to a one-year deal, but no one knows what the future holds for Aqib Talib, a starter for the past three seasons. Talib’s trial for felony assault with a deadly weapon is scheduled to begin June 25 and he’s also entering the final year of his contract. The Bucs should continue adding protection for themselves at corner in case Talib is not with them when the season starts, but they need to look at safety, too. They lack a dependable playmaker at the position.
Need No. 3: Linebacker
Tampa Bay was linked to MLB Curtis Lofton before he signed with the Saints, but the Bucs decided they were comfortable enough with Mason Foster, who started as a rookie at middle ’backer last season, and didn’t invest at the position in free agency. At the minimum, the Bucs should look to add depth at the position in the middle rounds with a player who can contribute immediately on special teams.