By TPR Staff

As we continue the Team Needs series for the 2013 NFL Draft, we proceed to the team with the thirteenth overall pick; the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a stellar draft class in 2012, the Bucs appeared on their way to at least a wild card berth in the first half of the season. But as with most young teams, they were unable to keep up that pace the entire season.

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The team seemed to respond well to new head coach Greg Schiano, despite the whispers about him wearing the young players out both mentally and physically and causing their second half downfall. But for the reputation that Schiano seems to have garnered around the league as a “bully,” he’s the type of guy you love as your coach and hate if he’s not. So let’s see who he’ll be looking to add in this year’s draft.

Cornerback

I think I’d feel confident listing the Bucs as having maybe the worst secondary in the league last season. I thought this even before Aqib Talib was traded and Eric Wright was suspended. But with Wright likely to be cut in the offseason and E.J. Biggers being a free agent, the need for a lock down corner has never been greater in Tampa. With Milliner likely gone by this point, the team could take a shot on the Jim Thorpe award winning Jonathan Banks to anchor their secondary in 2013.

Draft Possibilities: Jonathan Banks, Desmond Trufant

Tight End

As with most young quarterbacks in the league, getting a nice safety valve at tight end is important. With Dallas Clark most likely to leave during free agency, Tampa will likely look to the draft to find an upgrade over Luke Stocker. Tight end is a very deep position in this draft, so spending one of their first three picks on the position is a good bet. Zach Ertz could be the guy in the first if neither of the corners they want are available.

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Draft Possibilities: Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce

Safety

Ronde Barber played decently in 2012, but he is a free agent that is going to be 38 at the start of camp in 2013. Regardless of the decision that is made on bringing him back or not, the team needs to plan for the very near future and bringing in a prospect like Eric Reid to start or eventually replace Barber would be a good pick in the second.

Draft Possibilities: Eric Reid, T.J. McDonald

Defensive Line

Michael Bennett is easily one of the best at his position in all of the NFL, but he is a free agent and he is going to get paid like one. If Tampa is unable to bring him back, they’ll have to draft a better replacement than just going with Da’Quan Bowers. In the middle, Roy Miller is also a free agent who excels at stopping the run. With so much money being tied up in the defensive line, bringing in some younger kids might be the only plan left. Ezekiel Ansah could be just the type of player Schiano is looking for.

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Draft Possibilities: Ezekiel Ansah, Barkevious Mingo

Linebacker

Lavonte David was maybe the homerun gem of the 2012 draft as he was stellar all season, as was Mason Foster. But Quincy Black could certainly be improved upon with a middle round selection. A diverse player like Jonathan Bostic could slide in with that group and do quite well in Schiano’s scheme.

Draft Possibilities: Jonathan Bostic, Nico Johnson

With the NFC South remaining one of the toughest divisions in the conference, the Bucs won’t make it back to the postseason until they figure out how to win within their division more frequently. Josh Freeman has a lot of question marks after falling off in each of the last two seasons after hot starts. Bringing in a late round pick to push him could be an idea.

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The Bucs have the offensive pieces in place, but their defense has to improve over the sieve they were in 2012. The secondary has to get better if they’re to stop their multiple yearly showdowns with Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Cam Newton. If they can get that corrected in the draft and free agency, this team could make the leap to ten wins in 2013 rather easily.

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