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Bucs pick cornerback Talib in NFL draft first round

By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
Published Saturday, April 26, 2008 11:16 PM


Aqib Talib was named the Orange Bowl MVP after scoring on an interception, returning a punt 17 yards and making five tackles.
Aqib Talib was named the Orange Bowl MVP after scoring on an interception, returning a punt 17 yards and making five tackles.
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TAMPA

For Jon Gruden, it was the situation he had always dreamed of.

Late Saturday afternoon, every single receiver he had evaluated prior to the draft was still available when it came time for the Bucs to make their pick.

There were explosive ones such as Michigan State's Devin Thomas. Fast ones such as Cal's DeSean Jackson. And tall ones such as Indiana's 6-foot-5 James Hardy.

Better still, only two quarterbacks and two running backs had been chosen among the first 19 picks. All that was left was to go eeny, meeny, miny, moe and start counting touchdowns.

So naturally, the Bucs selected a defensive back, using the 20th overall choice on Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib.

"My guts are ripped out of my body right now. I'm no different than our fans," Gruden said. "I fall in love with some of these guys. You get relationships with them. You study their tape, their profiles. You follow their progress on a daily basis, and you drive home at night, wake up in the morning some days and envision what a great thrill it would be to coach some of these guys.

"That's why they have general managers to make the tough calls. I certainly support Bruce (Allen) all the way on this, and I know our staff is excited as a whole. We've got a guy with a lot of juice, a lot of energy."

With USF cornerback Mike Jenkins, a local favorite, still available, the Bucs took Talib despite reports he admitted to testing positive for marijuana three times while at Kansas. He also was suspended for two games in 2006 for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.

Talib dismissed his marijuana use as an immature phase of his life.

"It was a stage when I was a young man, moving out of the house, being on your own for the first time," Talib said. "All of that stuff happened 21/2 years ago, and I learned a lot from it. I'm a grown man now. I have moved forward from that."

"He came out and I believe was honest with what occurred," Gruden said. "I'm not going to live in the past. I'm going to live in the future. I trust this kid, and we're going to give him an opportunity to prove it."

The Bucs swapped second-round picks with the Jaguars, moving down six spots to 58th overall while picking up a fifth-rounder (158 overall) today and seventh-rounder in 2009.

Gruden later got his receiver, selecting Appalachian State's Dexter Jackson, who helped engineer the Division I-AA school's upset at Michigan last year with three catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

The 5-foot-9, 182-pound Jackson will provide immediate help in the kick return game and has exceptional 4.37 speed in the 40-yard dash. Jackson, who finished his career with 3,415 all-purpose yards, averaging nearly 14 yards every time he touched the ball, is a possible heir to 36-year-old Joey Galloway.

"Jon Gruden told me they were looking for a speed receiver to really give them a deep threat guy in the slot receiver because Joey Galloway was aging," Jackson said.

Nobody questions Talib's talent. The first-team All-American had 13 career interceptions, including five in 2007, two of which he returned for touchdowns. Talib also served as a receiver on occasion, catching eight passes for 182 yards and four touchdowns in 2007.

Gruden said Talib will immediately compete for the starting left cornerback job with Phillip Buchanon, who is entering the final year of his contract. Cornerback Ronde Barber is 33, and the Bucs also have signed Patriots safety Eugene Wilson and moved him to cornerback.

"He adds to a group that's pretty strong already," defensive backs coach Raheem Morris said.

"We lost a big player in Brian Kelly (to the Lions) and what he did for us over the last 10 years. We have to get another guy that has the ability and potential to do that."

It's the first time the Bucs used a first-round pick on a cornerback since SMU's Rod Jones in 1986.

But Gruden told Talib he reminded him of another first-round cornerback — former Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson, who was drafted by Gruden and Allen while with the Raiders.

"He said that if he had an opportunity to coach a player like Charles Woodson again," Talib said, "he didn't want to pass it up."


The newest Bucs

Aqib

Talib

Cornerback,

Kansas

The 20th overall pick was a three-year starter for the Jayhawks, even playing some offense during last season's BCS run.

Dexter Jackson

Receiver,

Appalachian State

The 27th pick of the second round (58th overall) had a breakout game in 2007's season-opening upset of Michigan.

Round 3

83rd overall

Round 4

120th overall

Round 5

153rd overall

158th overall

Today's Bucs picks



Meet Aqib Talib

Cornerback Kansas 6-1, 202

Highlights/stats

Ranks second in Kansas history with 13 interceptions. … Was All-Big 12 and first-team All-American in 2007 after finishing with five interceptions and 13 deflections. … Occasionally lined up at receiver, catching eight passes for 182 yards and four touchdowns in 2007.

THE VERDICT

Talib reportedly admitted testing positive for marijuana three times while at Kansas, which might have caused his stock to drop, and was suspended for two games in 2006 for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. But Talib has tremendous ball-hawking coverage skills, which will allow the Bucs to blitz more, and is a big cornerback who can replace the departed Brian Kelly. He is expected to compete with Phillip Buchanon for a starting job.


[Last modified: Sunday, April 27, 2008 6:00 PM]



Share your thoughts on this story

Comments on this article
by Disco Moe Apr 27, 2008 6:00 PM
The 1st. pick was legit but it could of been better! We had a chance to get Jenkins and we let him slip! You cant sleep on players like that!
by jay Apr 27, 2008 6:00 PM
does anyone remember danny peebles he was a lightning quick reciever too!
by Tony Apr 27, 2008 10:27 AM
Jeff, as usual Stroud throws out quotes without relaying the tone of the person interviewed. If you listen to the interview, Gruden IS on board with Talib. You people need to get your head out of Dungy and McKays butts and get on board here.
by Bohica Apr 27, 2008 10:06 AM
At the combine you have to be honest regarding past pot use. Its better to be honest than to get caught lying. Newsflash: college kids smoke pot. The writers should get over it.
by Tuck Apr 27, 2008 9:56 AM
I like the 1st pick; he has a great combination of size and speed for a corner. But, I am not too sure about the 2nd. His return averages weren't great. I'm hoping that the Bucs nab Caldwell in the 3rd round - Gruden could use hi
by Donovan Apr 27, 2008 9:34 AM
The Armchair GM's are up early and at it again. We wanted a speedy receiver that's a deep threat AND a return man. We all know we needed a CB to help with Brian Kelly's departure. Hey Aqib and Dexter: Welcome to Tampa! We really do
by Tim Apr 27, 2008 9:34 AM
My main concern is that every year, I name my fantasy football team after a Bucs player. There is NO WAY I can name my team after Aqib Talib! I'm just not that creative! GO BUCS!!!
by Tom Apr 27, 2008 8:30 AM
Jim and Jay, what were the Bucs thinking, maybe they should hire you two clowns to run the draft.
by Dale Apr 27, 2008 7:35 AM
I'm praying man. Hope they are right on these two.
by Jonathan Apr 27, 2008 7:35 AM
Jackson ran a 4.27 40, the 2nd faster wr and time recorded. talib was never mentioned locally, because nobody thought he'd be on the board at 20. Anyone who watched the Orange Bowl knows how incredible the guy is.
by jay Apr 27, 2008 7:34 AM
I really like the bucs 1st pick. The second pick cmon, how many 2aa receivers are good. Well i only know one Jerry Rice.A complete stretch what are they thinking.This is why they have had only one pro bowl in the last 8 or 9 years(Martin Grama
by Jeff Apr 27, 2008 7:34 AM
Yeah, Chucky sounds on board with the Talib pick. Don't worry, Jon - should he falter you can just lament the toys you didn't get and your cult can whine you into another extension.
by Jim Apr 27, 2008 7:34 AM
The Buc's could have drafted the QB of the future in either Brohm or Henne...Instead we trade down for a few insignificant late round picks and take a 3rd down slot receiver that we could have taken in the 3rd round. Stupid is as stupid does...A
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