Lots of people are assuming this will come down to a choice between Claiborne and Alabama running back Trent Richardson. In this draft, it didn’t shake out that way. AFC North colleague Jamison Hensley helped make the decision for me by taking Richardson for Cleveland at No. 4.
I immediately pounced on Claiborne because this pick makes sense on many levels. He’s the best cornerback in this draft. Tampa Bay currently has Aqib Talib, Eric Wright, Ronde Barber and a few other role players at cornerback. But Barber could be moving to safety this season. Even if he doesn’t, this might be his last season before retirement. Talib has an uncertain future with an assault trial in Texas coming up in June. He could face prison time or a suspension by the NFL. Even if Talib plays this season, he’s heading into the last season of his contract. It’s time for the Bucs to find a long-term, top-notch starter and Claiborne fits the profile.
We’ll see if the Bucs agree Thursday night, assuming Richardson isn’t available when they really are on the clock. I also think it’s at least possible we could all be wrong in thinking the Bucs are focused only on Claiborne and Richardson. If available, I think USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon and Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly also could be in the mix.