TAMPA — The competition for the Bucs' first-team nickel job just got a lot bigger.
Seeking more physical play in the secondary, Tampa Bay used its third-round pick on Vanderbilt cornerback Myron Lewis, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder expected to challenge for the nickel job and eventually more.
"He's a big, tall, athletic corner with great ball skills," general manager Mark Dominik said. "He's a good tackler, a great kid off the field as well. He's got very good feet for such a big man. Part of what we wanted to do here is build a bigger football team, and I believe we did that with his selection."
Lewis is 4 inches and 30 pounds heavier than Elbert Mack, the team's nickel defensive back last season. He said his size is a source of confidence when he's lined up against bigger receivers.
"I'm very aggressive against receivers … I'm able to stick with the bigger, taller receivers, and in the red zone, play the jump ball or deep ball," said Lewis, who is from Pompano Beach. "I'm going to come up and knock some heads off. I'm ready to go to work."
Lewis' brother, Hanik Milligan, played parts of five seasons in the NFL as a 6-3, 200-pound safety with the Chargers, Cardinals and Rams, making the Pro Bowl in 2006 as a special-teams player.
Lewis had four interceptions last season at Vanderbilt, where he started 36 games. He blitzed enough that he had five sacks as a junior, and though he has played safety, Dominik said he'll be a cornerback with the Bucs.
Tampa Bay gave up 28 passing touchdowns last season, sixth-most in the NFL, so upgrading the secondary was a priority. Lewis could be seen as an eventual heir to 35-year-old Ronde Barber when he retires.
Lewis didn't hear much from the Bucs before the draft, but will have a chance to make a fast impression this summer.
"I got a little love from them, but I didn't expect it at all," he said. "When I saw my name go across that board, I was so excited."
Times staff writer Greg Auman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (813) 226-3346.