NFL Rumor Central: Could the Bucs land Hargreaves and Spence?

Florida defensive back Vernon Hargreaves ran the 40 in a disappointing 4.5 seconds at the NFL scouting combine. AP Photo/Gregory Payan

With a weak secondary and a moribund pass rush, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have frequently been linked to Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves and Eastern Kentucky linebacker Noah Spence in first-round mock drafts, particularly Hargreaves. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has pegged the Florida corner as Tampa Bay's pick in all three of his mocks, as did ESPN's Todd McShay in his most recent mock. But perhaps we shouldn't rule out the possibility that the Bucs could get Hargreaves and Spence.

The Tampa Tribune's Roy Cummings has exactly that happening in his latest seven-round Buccaneers mock, with Tampa Bay landing Hargreaves at No. 9 and Spence slipping all the way to the team's second-round pick, No. 39 overall.

While Spence has been mentioned as a potential top-10 pick, it's not out of the realm of possibility that his character issues -- combined with an underwhelming combine performance -- could lead to a draft-day slide. The MMQB's Robert Klemko reported last week that some negativity persists around Spence, quoting one evaluator who said: "I don't hear that he's a first-round guy at all. I hear second or third round. There are a handful of teams that won't touch him at all."

If that proves to be true, the Bucs could indeed wind up with a chance at Smith in Round 2, which would help fill a huge need in the pass-rush. Though the team signed Robert Ayers in free agency, GM Jason Licht affirmed at league meetings on Monday, per Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, that it won't preclude the Bucs from taking a pass-rusher in the draft. The same is true of the team's cornerback situation, even with free-agent signee Brent Grimes on board, making Hargreaves a popular candidate.

It's rare that a team can add a top cornerback and top pass-rusher in the same draft, but the Bucs could potentially pull it off next month.