After finishing dead last in the league in total offense last year, it was obvious that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would place heavy emphasis in free agency and the the 2014 NFL Draft on helping the offense. Free agent signees Anthony Collins, Evan Dietrich-Smith and Josh McCown were certainly a step in the right direction, but the teams draft class additions could be what really boosts the offensive turnaround. Here’s a draft recap for the Bucs.
Tampa took Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M) with the seventh overall selection, and it’s hard to argue against it. Fills a need and a solid value. Evans is a matchup nightmare for DBs at 6-foot 5, 230-pounds with 4.5 speed, a 35-inch vertical leap and 35-inch arms. His catch radius is simply enormous. He’ll pair nicely next to WR Vincent Jackson, another 6-foot 5 guy with the frame of a power forward.
The Bucs didn’t stop adding both size and physicality to their passing attack there, selecting TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington) in the early second round. Seferian-Jenkins is another huge target for whomever is under center, either McCown or Mike Glennon, and should step into a starting spot right away. The 6-foot 5, 265-pounder is a freak athlete, and was being compared to guys like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski early in his college career before injuries and a DUI derailed his draft stock. If he stays healthy he could be one of the best tight ends in the league in a few years. Fills a huge need and is a good value.
In the third round the Bucs added a dynamic third down back in Charles Sims (West Virginia) to complement stud RB Doug Martin. Martin struggled to stay on the field last year due to injuries and took a step back in the receiving game, so adding a complete back like Sims was a good investment. Sims isn’t elite in any one category but he’s very good at everything; inside/outside running, zone/power scheme, receiving and blocking. The value of the pick wasn’t outstanding, but this was at a point in the draft when running backs were finally starting to get picked up left and right, so it made sense.
After adding to the skill positions, the Bucs focused on building more depth up front in the 5th round, with Kadeem Edwards (G, Tennessee State) and Kevin Pamphile (OT, Purdue). Both of these guys should be considered long term projects but they both have good upside. Edwards is a physical mauler inside for the run game but needs to play with much better awareness. Pamphile doesn’t have an elite skill set but does have decent length and footwork. At this point in the draft, you’re looking for high upside developmental guys, and both of them fit the bill.
Finally the Bucs added another WR in Robert Herron (Wyoming) in the sixth round. This was a good value here as most projected Herron to go somewhere in the middle rounds. He doesn’t offer elite size like the two earlier picks (Herron is all of 5-foot 9, 190-pounds), but he offers good speed and even better burst. He’s a threat after the catch, and could potentially develop into a decent slot man.
All in all, a good class that instantly improves the Bucs offense. It was a little surprising they didn’t take a single defensive player, but such is the unpredictability of the draft. One thing we know for sure, whoever wins the starting QB job is going to have an enormous set of targets to throw to in Jackson, Evans and Seferian-Jenkins.