Bucs toe line of risk vs. reward with picks

NEW YORK — The Buccaneers put on a clinic in risk-versus-reward draft strategy this week. Probably more risk than reward.

It was noteworthy when Tampa Bay, badly in need of edge rushers, bypassed Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers with the 20th overall pick. Bowers, once in the conversation at No. 1, became the draft’s big slider because of longevity concerns about his knee. But the player the Bucs did pick — Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn — has a medical red flag himself with the Erb’s palsy condition he has battled since childhood.

NFL.com’s Steve Wyche noted the Bucs did consider Bowers at No. 20, but in the end, they landed both players, selecting Bowers in the second round, at 51st overall. Comfortable with what it found out medically, Tampa Bay determined the risk on both players was worth the reward.

“I think the Bucs probably took a bigger risk in the first round with Clayborn because of when they took him. But he’s very confident he will start,” NFL.com analyst Pat Kirwan said. “They were wrestling with the concept of a short career for Bowers. At some point in the draft, you have to ignore the medial issues after players pass physicals. I think both moves are brilliant.”

In the big picture, it shows just how close the Bucs really believe they are to contending for a championship.

— Frank Tadych

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