Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – Round 1
The Buccaneers were desperate at the wide receiver position. Vincent Jackson is aging; Mike Williams was wisely traded away; and the lack of a third receiver, or any receiving depth, played a role in the Bucs having the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL. In the short term and long term, wide receiver was a critical need for Tampa Bay, and the team has an immediate starter in Evans.

The 6-foot-4, 231-pound Evans had stretches of dominance during the 2013 season. He destroyed Alabama (7-279) and made a lot of difficult catches for big gains along the sideline. Evans turned in another massive performance against Auburn (11-287). For the year, the redshirt sophomore had 69 receptions for 1,394 yards with 12 touchdowns. Evans took over as Texas A&M’s No. 1 receiver in 2012 as a redshirt freshman. Evans led the team with 82 receptions for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns.

There are some split opinions on Evans. Some teams picking in the top 10 of the 2014 NFL Draft told WalterFootball.com that they felt Evans was a mid- to late first-rounder and believed that he doesn’t have the speed to be a No. 1 receiver or get consistent separation in the NFL. Other teams in the top 10 loved Evans, and we know the Raiders were going to draft Evans if either Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack didn’t get to their pick. Evans may not be an elite No. 1 receiver as a pro, but at the very least, he should be a solid starter and a productive player for Tampa Bay.

Most Likely To Bust

Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia – Round 3
Sims is a quality running back, and as a player, I think he was worthy of a third- or fourth-round pick. However, the running back position has been downgraded, so a second-day pick on a halfback should be for a starter. In Tampa Bay, Sims could be stuck on the depth chart behind some other intriguing young players in Doug Martin, Mike James and Bobby Rainey.

Sims played well for West Virginia in 2013 with an average of 5.3 yards per carry for 1,095 yards with 11 touchdowns on 208 carries. As a receiver, he had 45 receptions for 401 yards and three scores. The 6-foot, 214-pounder is a well-rounded runner who isn’t overly fast or physical.

The Bucs may or may not end up needing Sims depending on how Martin bounces back from his 2013 season. Sims has the skill set to be a quality contributor, but he also could end up not validating the use of a top-70 pick.

Potential Boom Pick

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington – Round 2
In five years, I think this will be regarded as the best pick of the Bucs’ 2014 NFL Draft class and there will be a number of teams regretting not taking Seferian-Jenkins in the first round. Some teams were turned off by him off the field and downgraded him for character concerns, but even those teams feel that Seferian-Jenkins has a first-round skill set. They feel that if Seferian-Jenkins didn’t have an injury last year and a change in offense, he could have been a mid-first-round pick.

Seferian-Jenkins had 36 receptions for 450 yards and eight scores as junior in 2013. He caught 69 passes for 852 yards and seven touchdowns the year before. Seferian-Jenkins is a great fit in Tampa Bay, and WalterFootball.com knew that the Bucs have loved him for a long time. Similarly to Johnathan Banks and Lavonte David, I mocked the former Huskie over 20 times to Tampa Bay prior to the 2014 NFL Draft.

Seferian-Jenkins could be a dynamite pro. He has great size at 6-foot-6, 266-pounds, plus is a dangerous receiving weapon in the middle of the field with the speed to get open downfield. Linebackers have a hard time running with Seferian-Jenkins, and he’s too big for safeties to cover. Seferian-Jenkins also improved as a run blocker during his collegiate career and contributed to Bishop Sankey’s big 2013 season. Seferian-Jenkins should become a featured part of the Bucs’ passing attack, and he has the physical skills to become a Pro Bowler and one of the top tight ends in the NFC.

Future Depth Player

Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming – Round 6
The Buccaneers are set with their starting receivers of Jackson and Evans, but the team needed a slot receiver. Tampa Bay landed a nice competitor in Herron in the sixth round. He may not beat out Louis Murphy and other veterans for the job as a rookie, but Herron should be a good depth receiver and a player who the Bucs can rotate into the game to take a shot deep. Herron (5-9, 193) has the speed to stretch a defense vertically, which should complement the Buccaneers’ big wide outs. The undersized Herron may never develop into a starter, but he could become a solid depth player and third receiver working out of the slot.

Walt’s 2014 NFL Draft Grades:

7. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: A- Grade
This makes a ton of sense. The Buccaneers jettisoned the lethargic Mike Williams this offseason, which opened up an even bigger need for a No. 2 receiver. Mike Evans was the top player available – I wasn’t really sure he’d be here – so Tampa Bay is getting great value with a receiver projected to be the next Vincent Jackson. How will the NFC South teams deal with two Vincent Jacksons?

38. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington: B+ Grade
There are some character issues with Austin Seferian-Jenkins, so he’s not a slam-dunk pick or anything, but this is a solid choice for the Buccaneers, who add yet another weapon for Josh McCown. They had to find an upgrade at the tight end position, and Seferian-Jenkins is one of three who fit this range.

69. Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia: I’M THE MILLEN, I’M THE MILLEN, I’M THE MILLEN Grade
The Buccaneers have Doug Martin, Mike James and Bobby Rainey. Where does Charles Sims fit in? I could understand this pick if the Buccaneers thought they were getting a steal – hello, Tre Mason – but Charles Sims is a fourth-round prospect. So, not only does this not fill a need whatsoever; Tampa is reaching. This is an obvious Millen pick – and named after the awful ESPN song that keeps playing.

143. Kadeem Edwards, G, Tennessee State: C+ Grade
The Buccaneers don’t need a tackle, as some NFL analysts have stated. They did need to find a guard though. Kadeem Edwards is a slight reach here, but it’s the fifth round, so it’s not a huge deal.

149. Kevin Pamphile, OT, Purdue: D Grade
A starting tackle wasn’t needed, but the Buccaneers had to find depth behind Anthony Collins and Demar Dotson. Kevin Pamphile might be able to eventually emerge as a decent backup, but this is just too early for him. Throw in the fact that Tampa moved up for him, and I don’t like this selection very much.

185. Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming: A Grade
The Buccaneers finally drafted a target who isn’t 6-foot-4 or taller. Maybe he doesn’t fit the height requirement, but Robert Herron is a solid receiver who could have easily gone in Round 3. I love the value Tampa is getting with this selection.

2014 NFL Draft Team Grade: C . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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