Tampa Bay Buccaneers bolster offense early in the NFL draft

Frank Shala, fshala@valenciavoice.com

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Even though new Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith is a defensive mind, the team knew it must re-load their offense to improve on a four win season in 2013.

The Bucs used the seventh overall pick of the NFL draft Thursday night to select wide receiver Mike Evans out of Texas A&M.

The 6 foot 5, 231 pound wideout will look to help the Bucs improve an offense that ranked last in the league last season in total offense.

“He was our guy,” said Bucs general manager Jason Licht to the Tampa Bay Times. “What stood out? It was what stood up on him…we’ve got the Twin Towers now.

Licht was referring to the pairing of Evans and current Bucs wideout Vincent Jackson, who also stands 6’5, and will look to cause matchup problems to opposing defenses.

Evans caught 69 passes for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore in 2013. As a redshirt freshman during quarterback Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy season in 2012, he caught 82 passes for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns.

The Bucs were being linked to several players, including Manziel with that first round pick, but after their second and third round picks, it’s clear that loading up on the skill positions is the number one concern going into the 2014 season.

With the 38th overall pick in the second round, the Bucs drafted tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, out of the University of Washington. Seferian-Jenkins, who is an imposing 6-5, 262 pounds, adding to the monster receiving core.

He caught 21 touchdowns in three years, including eight in 2013, when he caught 36 passes for 450 yards, earning the Mackey Award as nation’s top tight end. He also hauled in 69 passes for 852 yards and seven TDs in 2012.

With their third round pick, the Bucs selected West Virginia running back Charles Sims. Sims, 6 feet and 213 pounds, played three seasons at Houston before transferring to West Virginia last year as a graduate transfer. He rushed for a career-best 1,095 yards and 11 touchdowns, giving him 48 total touchdowns.

The NFL draft continues on Saturday with rounds four through seven. The Bucs do not have a fourth round pick (sent to Jets in Darelle Revis trade). They have one pick each in rounds five, six and seven.