Buccaneers Have Plenty of Options in First Round

Wednesday, May 7, 2014  |  Updated 7:18 PM EDT
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Buccaneers Have Plenty of Options in First Round

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HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 19: Mike Evans #13 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates his third touchdown reception against the Auburn Tigers on October 19, 2013 at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. Auburn Tigers won 45 to 41.(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made their name in the last 15 years with a great defense and a solid, if unspectacular offense. The Bucs have several key playmakers on both sides of the ball, but an addition at wide receiver or defensive tackle may give the team a shot in the competitive NFC South.

Nearly every NFL mock draft over the past few weeks has linked the Buccaneers to Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans. It’s easy to see the desire to send Evans to the Bucs.

Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown needs more targets on the outside and giving him Evans to play alongside Vincent Jackson would give Tampa two big-bodied wide receivers over 6’5” to throw at opponents.

Evans could learn from Jackson and eventually take over for him in the coming years. Outside of Jackson, the Bucs have no other receiver or tight end that could strike fear into defenses or help out McCown. Evans would fill all of those spots and further open up the field.

Still, Bucs head coach Lovie Smith is a defense-first coach and has had great success when he has had a defensive line capable of wreaking havoc on opponents.

In Tampa, Smith inherited a great young defensive tackle in Gerald McCoy, a former top five pick. McCoy is teamed up with Michael Johnson and Adrian Clayborn at defensive end. But there is a spot open next to McCoy that Tampa could fill with an immediate impact player with the number seven pick.

While it might be considered high for some draft analysts, Pittsburgh Panthers defensive tackle Aaron Donald would give the Bucs a pair of defensive tackles second to none in the NFL.

Donald is smaller than the prototypical defensive tackle. He’s 6’1” and weighs in the neighborhood of 285 pounds. But what he doesn’t have in size, he made up for with determination and a non-stop motor that sent his numbers through the roof in college.

Last year as a senior, Donald finished with 43 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. In his four year career, he tallied 29.5 sacks and 181 total tackles in college.

Donald put on a display in individual workouts, his pro day, and at the annual Senior Bowl. His stock has been flying up draft boards ever since the end of last season.

The NFL.com draft analysis summed up Donald thusly: “Compares very favorably to (Tampa Bay 1999 15th overall pick) Booger McFarland and is a key building block and classic scheme fit for Tampa 2 teams.”

McFarland was a star in the Tampa Bay defense when he played alongside fellow defensive tackle Warren Sapp. The 2014 NFL Draft may have Smith looking to recreate the duo with Donald and McCoy.

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