- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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There are pretty common assumptions among Tampa Bay and Carolina fans that the Bucs will take either LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne or Alabama running back Trent Richardson with the fifth overall pick in the draft and Carolina will take a defensive player at No. 9.
That’s all logical and very possible. But I think there’s a wild-card scenario that could play out for either team.
That’s Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. He generally is viewed as the top receiver in the draft and I think the Bucs and Panthers would consider him, if he’s available.
It looks like the Bucs and Panthers apparently are doing their homework on Blackmon. He reportedly will visit both teams prior to the draft.
Although receiver might not be the top need for the Bucs or Panthers, it’s at least a consideration and I could see Blackmon landing with either team.
Tampa Bay added free agent Vincent Jackson. But the Bucs, who want to improve the talent around quarterback Josh Freeman, could be looking to add an upgrade because Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn didn’t have big seasons in 2011.
Carolina has Steve Smith as its No. 1 receiver. Although Smith hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, he is aging. The Panthers need to find an heir apparent. The team has high hopes for David Gettis and Brandon LaFell, but they might not be anything more than No. 2 receivers. Blackmon could be a No. 2 receiver right away and be the heir apparent to Smith as the No. 1 receiver.