Monday, May 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs take Washington TE, West Virginia RB on second day of NFL draft

TAMPA — Shortly after taking 6-foot-5 tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins from Washington in the second round of the NFL draft Friday night, Bucs general manager Jason Licht coined the team's towering collection of pass catchers.

"The Dunk-a-neers," he said.

If bigger is better, the Bucs' last-ranked offense will be greatly improved next season.

Licht went big again Friday, selecting Seferian-Jenkins, a former Huskies basketball player, with the 38th overall pick.

On Thursday night, the Bucs began the draft by taking 6-5 receiver Mike Evans of Texas A&M seventh overall. He will play opposite veteran receiver Vincent Jackson, who also is 6-5.

"Maybe we're starting a trend with these big guys with catch radius. It wasn't on our manual (that) we need to find a 6-foot-5 guy (Friday)," Licht said. "It just worked out that way, and we're happy about it."

With needs on the offensive line, the Bucs went a little off script in the third round and selected West Virginia running back Charles Sims.

The Bucs' backfield — already crowded with Doug Martin, Mike James and Bobby Rainey — was considered a strength of the team last year. But Licht said he couldn't resist taking what he said was a player with the third-best hands in the draft after Evans and Seferian-Jenkins.

Sims had 203 receptions in his career at the University of Houston and with the Mountaineers, including 70 as a freshman. He also rushed for 3,465 yards in his career.

"Running back was a pretty strong position that we had," Licht said. "We still feel that way, but this one kind of stood out like the tight end did. We had a chance to get a back that had a versatile skill set and can score points for us. We didn't want to turn it down."

Seferian-Jenkins declared for the draft after his junior season with the Huskies in which he caught 36 passes for 450 yards and eight touchdowns. That performance was enough to earn him the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end.

Like Evans, a basketball player who was offered a scholarship to the University of Texas and did not play football until his senior season in high school, Seferian-Jenkins has a hoops background. As a freshman, he played in 17 games for the Huskies basketball team.

"It helps me so much," Seferian-Jenkins said. "Being able to play basketball at a high level, adjusting to the ball in the air, quick feet, quick hands, all that stuff definitely translates to playing tight end in the National Football League."

Asked about the Bucs' sky-scraping lineup of pass catchers, Seferian-Jenkins said, "Yeah, I like our odds."

The Bucs had a first-round grade on Seferian-Jenkins, who compared favorably to North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, who went 10th overall to the Lions on Thursday night.

If there was a downside for Seferian-Jenkins, it was that a stress fracture was discovered in one of his feet during medical exams at the scouting combine in February, an injury he played all last season with. But he said he is 100 percent now.

A possible reason for the injury was Seferian-Jenkins' decision to add 20 pounds to help with run blocking. But he said he felt sluggish at 280 pounds and will play closer to 260 in the NFL.

"I was asked to do more in the run-blocking game, and I thought that would help by gaining weight," Seferian-Jenkins said. "And it really didn't. I learned it has more to do with technique, and I'm not going to do that anymore. It really just comes down to understanding technique and fundamentals."

Seferian-Jenkins also may have left an impression on Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford. While Tedford was the head coach at Cal, he had two of his best games against the Golden Bears, both Washington victories. In 2011, Seferian-Jenkins caught four passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns against Cal. In 2012, he had a career-high eight receptions for 154 yards and a score.

"I'm going to bring explosiveness, I'm going to bring playmaking ability, I'm going to bring blocking, I'm going to bring an all-around tight end that can play all three downs and a guy who's going to work hard and chase Super Bowls and try to win as many games as possible for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," Seferian-Jenkins said.

He was the first Huskie taken and is the highest-picked Washington player since quarterback Jake Locker went No. 8 overall to Tennessee in 2011.



. fast facts

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Tight end, Washington

6 feet 5, 262 pounds, 21 years old

Second round, 38th overall pick

Fox Island, Wash.

COLLEGE STATS: 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. Caught 69 passes for 852 yards and seven TDs in 2012.

REMEMBER ME? Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford faced Seferian-Jenkins twice when he was Cal's head coach, and the tight end had big games in Huskies wins both times. In 2011, he had two touchdowns and 54 yards, and in 2012 he had a career-best 154 yards on eight catches with a touchdown.

ON THE SIDE: Played as a walk-on on Washington's basketball team in 2011-12, scoring 19 points and totaling 36 rebounds in limited action

Charles Sims

Running back, West Virginia

Third round, 69th pick overall

6 feet, 213 pounds, 23 years old

Houston

COLLEGE STATS: Rushed for 1,095 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013, joining West Virginia as a graduate transfer after three years at Houston. Had 40 rushing touchdowns in four college seasons, with another eight on receptions. Caught 203 passes in four years, including 70 as a freshman in 2009 under future WVU coach Dana Holgorsen.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

 
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