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Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade up in fourth round with Eagles for Tennessee TE Luke Stocker

TAMPA — Everyone knew the Tampa Bay Buccaneers broke down a lot of college game tape in preparation for the NFL draft. Apparently, they made note of which players went out for the coin toss.

The Bucs continued their emphasis on leadership as six of the eight players selected during the three-day draft were captains of their teams.

"I think the other two guys could be captains with their character," general manager Mark Dominik said. "I feel really good about that. No, it's not a requirement. But I feel really good about that. We look at that as a level of respect with a university, certainly within the team and the coaching staff. Anybody who has that kind of mentality, that kind of tag to them deserves an extra bit of scrutiny in the right way."

The Bucs' primary focus of the draft the first two days was on defense, of course, starting by their selection of bookend defensive ends — Iowa's Adrian Clayborn and Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers. They added a possible replacement for Barrett Ruud at middle linebacker in Washington's Mason Foster.

But on Saturday, Tampa Bay got some new targets for quarterback Josh Freeman, doubling up on tight ends and adding another big running back.

"I feel like we've got a way to attack the quarterback," Dominik said. "I think we got some more weapons for Freeman, and I think we improved the quality of this football team again specifically on fourth down and special teams."

That trend continued Saturday when the Bucs began by trading up 12 spots in the fourth round with the Philadelphia Eagles to select Tennessee tight end Luke Stocker (104th overall). In exchange, the Bucs traded their fourth-round pick (116th) and a fourth-round choice in 2012.

The 6-foot-5, 253-pound Stocker is one of the most complete tight ends in the draft and could help the Bucs as a receiver or blocker. He caught 85 career passes for 956 yards and eight touchdowns and will help the Bucs in their two-tight end formation opposite Kellen Winslow.

"The nervous head coach sat there and he wants to get guys, and Mark and his staff were right on the details about where they should go and waited until possibly the last minute to take some of those guys," coach Raheem Morris said. "When you get a Luke Stocker in the fourth round, when you could easily give him the grade of a second-round pick or arguably a late first, that is a phenomenal day."

In the fifth round, Tampa Bay stayed a little closer to home, selecting Florida safety Ahmad Black. At 5-93/8, 185, Black is considered a bit undersized for an NFL safety. But he led the Gators in tackles and was the MVP of the 2011 Outback Bowl after returning an interception 80 yards for a touchdown against Penn State in coach Urban Meyer's final game.

"He provides a lot of fun, a lot of excitement, really similar to a guy like Cody (Grimm), really similar to a guy like Tanard (Jackson), hybrid athletes that can do a bunch of things because of their instincts and awareness," Morris said.

The Bucs addressed their offense again in the sixth round, selecting USC running back Allen Bradford. The 5-11, 242-pound Bradford was recruited as a safety but switched to running back and averaged 5.94 yards per carry in his career.

"We like big backs," Dominik said. "Last year, I went big-back hunting when we went out and got Kregg Lumpkin and LeGarrette Blount. We went big-back hunting again today, and we brought home another one that I'm really fired up about … this National Football League has become a big man's game, and we're going to bring big backs at other opponents."

With the future of troubled cornerback Aqib Talib in doubt, the Bucs finally addressed the secondary in the seventh round by selecting Florida International defensive back Anthony Gaitor.

The Bucs used their compensatory pick in the seventh round on Idaho tight end Daniel Hardy, No. 238 overall. The 6-4, 249-pounder was the second tight end the Bucs took Saturday. Hardy had 32 catches despite missing his last five games with a broken arm.

One area the Bucs did not address in the draft was the offensive line. That's because they hope to re-sign free agent guard Davin Joseph and possibly tackle Jeremy Trueblood and will get center Jeff Faine back from injured reserve. And the contributions of newcomers like rookies Ted Larsen and Derek Hardman were encouraging.

"We feel we had some draft picks coming back on our football team that we lost because of injury," Morris said. "We felt pretty good there and the board fell the way it fell where we had special players at places of need."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade up in fourth round with Eagles for Tennessee TE Luke Stocker 04/30/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 30, 2011 9:51pm]
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