No team this off-season made a bigger and quicker free agent splash than the Buccaneers -- landing wide receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright in quick succession after the free agency gates were opened in March.
Now they turn their attention to the draft, where they'll need to continue to upgrade an offense that ranked 21st overall in 2011 and 30th overall in rushing.
Young QB Josh Freeman struggled in his sophomore campaign, throwing 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. The Bucs have already given him a top-notch No. 1 receiver in Jackson, and will give him the top running back in the draft when they select Alabama All-American Trent Richardson.
Tampa's starting running back LeGarrette Blount was no slouch in 2011, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. But Blount fumbles too much (five times in 2011) and lacks the game-breaking ability that teams need to gameplan against.
Richardson, who only fumbled once in 614 college carries, possesses that ability, and while I'm a big advocate of holding off on drafting running backs this early, Richardson is too special a talent to wait for.
Richardson played second fiddle to 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram in his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa, but it was evident early on that he was the more talented of the two. He waited patiently, making an impact every time he stepped on the field. Once Ingram left for the NFL, Richardson proved he could shoulder the load himself, carrying the ball 283 times for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2011. He has the thick build (5-foot-9, 228 pounds) to withstand the punishment, and the speed and vision to get through the smallest of holes.
Richardson rarely gets caught falling backwards. He's always leaning forwards with his legs churning. He's not going to make a defender look ridiculous in the open field like a LeSean McCoy, but a tackler wiill rarely get a solid shot in on him. He can also contribute in the passing game, where he's shown soft hands and good body control. He's simply a franchise, three-down back who can make the big play as well as wear down the defense when he has to.
The Buccaneers might have more pressing needs at offensive tackle or even linebacker, but the chance to grab a truly special player doesn't come too often and Richardson is one of only a few in this year's draft.
Jared Sherman has been providing CSNPhilly.com with draft analysis since 2000. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Phillyjared.