TAMPA — The Bucs were awaiting their chance to make their second of two second-round picks Friday night, and they couldn't bear the thought of watching a player they had long targeted vanish three picks ahead of them.
So the Bucs traded up to pick at No. 39. They took Illinois receiver Arrelious Benn, essentially admitting what everyone knew: Receiver was a position of great need.
"There was apprehension," general manager Mark Dominik said. "I don't think it's any secret that Tampa Bay was looking for wide receivers. I think (reporters) made that very clear to everyone. So, thank you very much."
The move cost the Bucs a fifth-round choice, which they sent to the Raiders.
If Benn pans out, the move will be a bargain. Given the Bucs' need after the departure of No. 1 wideout Antonio Bryant, the Bucs had a certain amount of pressure to come away from the draft with help.
And Benn is confident — particularly so — that he can be what the Bucs want. He was the third receiver selected this year, behind Georgia Tech's DeMaryius Thomas and Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant, but he doesn't see himself as inferior to anyone. "I think it's one of the best decisions Tampa could make," Benn said of his drafting. "The other guys are good, but I feel as though I'm the guy who's going to take it to the next level."
Benn's resume is a mixed bag. He caught 54 passes as a freshman in 2007 and 67 as a sophomore in 2008. But a quarterback carousel last season, coupled with a change of offensive coordinators, helped create a dip in production: 38 catches for 490 yards.
But Benn is attractive for several reasons: He has great size, 6 feet 2 and 220 pounds. And though he ran a pedestrian 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine in February, he followed that up with a 4.36-second time at his campus pro day. Combine that with his ability to outmuscle smaller defensive backs and the Bucs believe he can be a deep threat.
"He has the ability to stretch the field because of his size," coach Raheem Morris said. "He's more of the bigger type of receiver. (The Dolphins') Brandon Marshall didn't run well at the combine. (The Bills' Terrell Owens) didn't run well at the combine. But they're bigger bodies, hard to defend down the field. They create space with their body control.
"I don't want to put the young man in that category, but there are different types of people. … These big men that are able to run down the football and are hard to bring down, when you have a chance to get them, it excites you."