Mel Kiper Jr. shakes up Bucs' pick

Mel Kiper Jr. has his latest mock draft out and it has some big shifts when it comes to the NFC South. Check out this Insider postInsider.

Although the trend recently had been indicating that LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Alabama running back Trent Richardson would be gone before No. 5, they’re not in Kiper’s latest scenario.

They both are on the board because Kiper has USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil going to Minnesota at No. 3, and Cleveland taking Justin Blackmon at No. 4.

A lot of people around the NFL will tell you that the value of running backs has declined because the league has turned more to passing. Conventional wisdom is that you can get running backs later in the draft and you should not take them in the top 10, unless they are a special talent.

Apparently, Kiper believes (or thinks the Bucs believe) Richardson truly is special. Kiper has Richardson going to the Bucs, and he passes on Claiborne. If they’re both there, I could see the Bucs going either way. They do have need at cornerback, and Claiborne is the best in the draft. But coach Greg Schiano has talked repeatedly about how he wants to have a strong running game, and Richardson could be the centerpiece of that.

At No. 9, Kiper has Carolina taking Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. I’m on board with that. Carolina general manager Marty Hurney has gotten a little more daring in recent drafts and taken some chances. But I think Hurney will get back to his roots this year. In Kiper’s scenario, Kuechly probably is the best player on the board. He’s also a guy who had great production in college, can make an instant impact, and really comes with no questions.