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Bucs can make big splash with 19th pick

Name a better cornerback than Antonio Cromartie. Was there anyone better than Marvin Harrision when Harrision was in his prime?

Shaun Alexander was a pretty good running back, too. Remember?

All three were taken with the 19th pick in their respective drafts.

The Carolina Panthers took offensive tackle Jeff Otah last April. Otah started 12 games last season.

The New York Giants found guard Luke Petitgout at 19 in 1999.

The Indianapolis Colts took Tarik Glenn at 19 in 1997.

The Jacksonville Jaguars got a lot out of running back James Stewert, the 19th overall pick in 1995.

“Hey 19” is not just a great song by Steely Dan. It can also be a heck of a pick if you pick right.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pick 19th in Saturday’s draft.

They need to get it right.

And it wouldn’t hurt if they found some players in the later rounds, too.

The team has undergone tremendous change since throwing away a playoff berth last December.

A new general manager. A new coach.

Linebacker Derrick Brooks was released.

Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was signed and given the richest contract for a tight end.

New coaching staff. New philosophies.

Retooled. Remolded.

Now the Bucs need to find reenforcements.

This weekend’s draft is when first-year general manager Mark Dominik can really stamp his mark on the franchise.

Sticking with the “best player available” line used by many a GM, Dominik will go about finding the pieces needed to upgrade almost every area on the team.

That’s the good thing about drafting at 19. You’re not pressured into taking one of the studs at the top of the draft, and there should be enough “best players available” to fit one of many needs.

Of course, there is always the possibility the Bucs could trade down in a draft-day deal with a team looking to move up to get one specific player.

It will be well past dinner time Saturday before we see Dominik’s first card.

And it will be well past draft day before we see what kind of class Dominik drafts.

As far as impact players, they will be out there when the first round comes to One Buc Place.

But what this team can use more than anything are solid picks who will become solid players.

The Bucs have eight picks. None in the second round. That went to the Cleveland Browns in the trade for Winslow. They have three in the seventh round.

The draft has not been a friend of the Bucs in recent years. According to the Sporting News, the Bucs have zero studs in the 47 total picks during the past five years. You wonder if the Sporting News has seen middle linebacker Barrett Ruud play.

Still, the Bucs have found only eight starters in those five drafts.

They head into this weekend needing defensive linemen and outside linebackers. Some depth in the defensive backfield wouldn’t hurt. They could always use another receiver. And if there is a good running back available, why not?

The draftniks seem to like defensive tackle Peria Jerry from Mississippi and USC linebackers Rey Maualuga and Clay Matthews.

New defensive coordinator Jeff Bates has a system that favors big, physical cornerbacks like Aqib Talib over smaller, zone-friendly corners like Ronde Barber. So, this might be the right time to find Barber’s replacement.

Signing Byron Leftwich means the Bucs are probably no longer interested in Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman, unless they are, and they want Freeman to learn the game from the bench his first season. A wise move if that is their move.

A lot depends on what Detroit does with the first overall pick. The Detroit Lions control the board, and the draft will fall one way if they take Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford and an entirely different way if they don’t.

We won’t know whether the Lions’ first move causes a wave or only a ripple when the Bucs are on the clock.

Same with the crop gathered by the Bucs this weekend.

Given the way the team folded last year and the moves made in recent months, this would be a good time for a good draft.