Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Guard, receiver remain Bucs options

TAMPA — The Bucs filled their most glaring need Thursday night by taking Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans in the first round, giving them freedom to go in several directions with the sixth pick of tonight's second round.

The Bucs, picking at No. 38, could find a starting guard or shift their attention to the defense by adding a pass rusher.

All of the draft's top guards remain available, led by UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo, Stanford's David Yankey and Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson.

The Bucs have uncertainty at guard, with veteran Carl Nicks still recovering from a toe injury that sidelined him most of last season.

Jamon Meredith was re-signed and could start at one guard spot, but without Nicks, there isn't a second starting guard on the roster.

"I've been accused of just wanting defense, defense always. It takes a lot more than that to win football games," coach Lovie Smith said after drafting Evans.

The Bucs also have the fifth pick in tonight's third round — 69th overall — and might not be done at receiver.

There's limited depth behind Evans and starter Vincent Jackson, and receiver might be the draft's deepest position.

Evans was the second of five receivers taken in the first round, including three in the NFC South — New Orleans took Oregon State's Brandin Cooks and Carolina took FSU's Kelvin Benjamin.

Asked if Evans exemplified the "speed in space" idea that offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford likes in his offense, general manager Jason Licht said he does, then teased that "the draft isn't over yet."

Could the Bucs use a second-day pick on a second rookie receiver?

Speedy options are still readily available — USC's Marqise Lee, Mississippi's Donte Moncrief and Colorado's Paul Richardson, among others.

The Bucs could also help the passing game with a tight end — only one (UNC's Eric Ebron) was taken, but Texas Tech's Jace Amaro wasn't picked, nor was Notre Dame's Troy Niklas or Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

And as adamant as Smith was that Mike Glennon is his quarterback of the future, there are passers available, including one with close personal ties to Tedford in Fresno State's Derek Carr, who was projected as a first-round pick but went undrafted.

One more option that shouldn't be discounted is the defensive line, which Smith has said is where a dominant defense gets its start.

The Bucs got production from two rookies last year in end Will Gholston and tackle Akeem Spence, but you could see a pass-rusher taken tonight — Stanford's Trent Murphy and Missouri's Kony Ealy are the top candidates in that group.

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