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Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft two West Virginia defenders, Utah State running back, Northwestern tight end

TAMPA — For all the thousands of dollars spent in the Buccaneers scouting department, scouring the land in a nationwide hunt for college talent, coach Greg Schiano narrowed his focus a little bit for two picks Saturday.

To the Big East Conference. To West Virginia University. Heck, to one lousy apartment.

The Bucs selected Mountaineers linebacker Najee Goode in the fifth round when the final day of the draft resumed Saturday. About an hour later, they took his roommate, cornerback Keith Tandy, in the sixth round.

"Obviously, I know a lot about both the West Virginia kids playing against them for four years," former Rutgers coach Schiano said. "They were both a royal pain in the rear. As I told them, it's good to be on the same side now.

"Those two guys are football maniacs. I mean, they love the game, and they play it with such passion."

Clearly, much of the focus for the Bucs in the three-day draft was on improving a defense that allowed a franchise-worst 494 points last season. Four of their first five picks came from that side of the football, including Alabama safety Mark Barron (seventh overall) and Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David (58th).

The Bucs used their seventh-round picks on offensive weapons, Utah State running back Michael Smith (212th overall) and Northwestern tight end Drake Dunsmore (233rd).

"I'm very excited about the type of players we were able to bring in," Schiano said. "The whole draft class, there's a common thread: there's tough guys, there's leaders, there's guys who love the game of football."

Schiano never beat West Virginia in his 11 years at Rutgers. But he did gain an appreciation for players in the Big East, particularly two Mountaineer defenders.

Goode (6 feet, 244 pounds) started 24 games in his last two seasons at West Virginia and finished with 157 career tackles, 22.5 for loss, eight sacks and two interceptions. Tandy (5-10, 199) started 40 games and had 188 tackles and 13 interceptions.

"We always played (Rutgers) in tough games in crazy weather," Goode said. "They had good athletes and against them, I did have some great games. I'm glad he got a chance to see me before he looked at me NFL-wise. I was actually pretty good against them and made some plays."

Goode is the youngest of three brothers. His father, John, was a standout tight end at Youngstown State and a fifth-round pick by the Cardinals (then in St. Louis) in 1984. His brother Tarig played at Youngstown State in 2006 and later in the Arena Football League for the Mahoning Valley Thunder. His other brother Wakeem was a starting linebacker at Hampton University from 2005-08.

"The competition has always been through my family because we have a high level of it," Goode said. "My family is all boys. … We always try to make each other better."

Smith (5-9, 205) is a speed demon who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 at the Aggies' pro day workout. He averaged more than 7 yards a carry last season, including back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances to end his career. But Smith was overshadowed a bit playing behind Robert Turbin, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Seahawks.

"It's like every time (general manager) Mark (Dominik) and I watched tape, he would jump off the tape at you," Schiano said of Smith. "I mean, just a different kind of speed than everybody else on the field. How we utilize that, that's going to be our job … and there are several different ways you can do it. But speed wins."

In fact, Dominik said shortly after they drafted Smith, a general manager from another team called and offered Tampa Bay a sixth-round pick in 2013 for the Aggies running back.

"I never had that happen before," Dominik said.

The Bucs addressed another need with their final pick in the seventh round with Dunsmore, who could also be a straight line blocker at fullback. The 6-3, 235-pound Dunsmore had 14 career touchdown receptions and was the Wildcats' second-leading receiver last season with 45 catches for 522 yards.

Certainly, Schiano's handprints were all over the Bucs draft class. He's close with Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald and had the insight on Dunsmore. Goode and Tandy tortured him at Rutgers.

"Coach knows those two players, having played against them. But I also think they stand out like beacon lights at their university," Dominik said. "Quite honestly, I did not know they were roommates, but I'm not surprised one iota."

FREE AGENTS: The Bucs began signing a group of undrafted free agents Saturday night after the draft, including Toledo receiver Eric Page, a projected mid- to late-round pick. Page, who left school after his junior season, had 1,182 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2011 but was not among the 33 receivers drafted.

Page joined another Toledo prospect, tackle Mike Van Der Meulen, who the Bucs signed.

The team also stayed close to home, signing two former high school standouts from the bay area: USF guard-center Chaz Hine of Newsome and Iowa State cornerback Leonard Johnson of Largo. USF cornerback Quenton Washington also was signed.

Dominik said they could sign as many as 15 undrafted players.

Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this story.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft two West Virginia defenders, Utah State running back, Northwestern tight end 04/28/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 12:56pm]
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