Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs rookies Ryan Smith, Caleb Benenoch work on versatility

TAMPA — Flexibility to help at multiple positions can help a late-round draft pick stick on an NFL roster, and DB Ryan Smith and OL Caleb Benenoch are already working on that at the Bucs' rookie minicamp.

"As we said going back to the day we drafted those guys, versatility in the later rounds is key," coach Dirk Koetter said. "You've got to have multi-position guys, got to have guys that can play more than one spot."

So Benenoch, a fifth-round pick who had 31 of his 35 starts at UCLA at right tackle, got a look at right guard on Saturday, though he could end up playing outside.

"(Offensive line) coach (George) Warhop wanted to start me at guard," Benenoch said. "Probably going to move outside at some point, but I'm a versatile guy and that's what he wanted when he picked me up, so I'm going to go whatever he needs me to do."

Smith, a fourth-round pick from North Carolina Central, played cornerback more recently in college but will likely play safety with the Bucs, as he did early in his days at NCCU.

"It helps me, knowing where everybody on the field is supposed to be, as well as myself," Smith said. "(Playing) corner did help me with ball skills and everything, and playing safety in college at first helped me learn where everybody on the field is supposed to be. So it just helped me be a better player."

Koetter pointed to third-year lineman Kevin Pamphile, who worked primarily at tackle but stepped in as the starting left guard last year when veteran Logan Mankins missed a game with injury (Mankins has since retired).

Two to go: Danny Vitale, the Northwestern fullback/tight end that Tampa Bay drafted in the sixth round, signed his rookie contract Saturday. He's the fifth draft pick to sign, leaving only the Bucs' two second-round picks, DE Noah Spence and K Roberto Aguayo, as the remaining unsigned rookies.

Making a splash: First-round pick CB Vernon Hargreaves had an interception during drills, as did undrafted rookie safeties Isaiah Johnson (South Carolina) and Elijah Shumate (Notre Dame). Johnson played under current Bucs secondary coach Jon Hoke with the Gamecocks last season.

"Vernon Hargreaves made a beautiful interception on an option route out there," Koetter said. "Quarterback was a little late and he cut in front of it, made a nice play, but there's guys making nice plays on both sides of the ball. We just have to temper everything with (players having) just helmets on."

This and that: Because UCLA's academic schedule is quarters and not semesters, Benenoch won't be able to return to the Bucs until June, missing some team workouts in two weeks, per NFL policy. He said he's about a year away from getting his degree in political science. … Some roster adjustments should be coming as rookie minicamp wraps up today, with some rookie free agents waived and some tryout players grabbing roster spots. Among those signed after tryouts last year: WRs Adam Humphries and Donteea Dye, who saw considerable playing time after others were injured last season.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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