TAMPA, Fla. — Coach Lovie Smith entered the NFL draft with a reputation as a defensive guru. However, a distinct offensive flavor has characterized the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first three selections.
After the second and third rounds Friday, more size and speed is coming to the Bucs’ offense.
Tampa Bay added tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins as its second-round pick (38th overall) and running back Charles Sims as its third-round selection (69th) on the second day of the draft.
Seferian-Jenkins, a Washington product, gives the Bucs a sizable target at 6-foot-5, 262 pounds. Sims, a former Houston running back who transferred to West Virginia, could be a versatile addition as a runner and backfield receiving option at 5-foot-11, 213 pounds.
"I really can’t contain my excitement here," Bucs general manager Jason Licht said, smiling. "We’re really excited."
Licht said the Bucs didn’t enter the draft desiring a tight end, but he added that Seferian-Jenkins was ranked highly on their draft board. To Licht, Tampa Bay’s war room "felt it was time to pounce."
Seferian-Jenkins, a Mackey Award winner in 2013, had 146 catches for 1,840 yards and 21 touchdowns in his three-year college career. His best season statistically came in 2012, when he had 852 yards receiving with seven touchdowns.
"I’m happy," Seferian-Jenkins said. "I feel extremely blessed and highly favored. And I’m really excited to be here."
A basketball influence will be clear at One Buc Place. With Seferian-Jenkins’ arrival, Tampa Bay took wide Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans — a standout high school basketball player in Galveston, Texas — with the seventh overall pick Thursday night. After the 2011 football season, Seferian-Jenkins was a walk-on member of Washington’s basketball team and played as a reserve forward, becoming the 19th player in school history to play both football and basketball (the first since defensive back Nate Robinson played guard on the basketball team from 2003-05). He logged 122 minutes and had 19 points with 36 rebounds in 17 games.
"I’m going to bring explosiveness," Seferian-Jenkins said. "I’m going to bring play-making ability. I’m going to bring blocking. I’m going to bring an all-around tight end who can play all three downs and a guy that’s going to work hard and chase Super Bowls."
With Seferian-Jenkins’ addition, the Bucs will have considerable size among their most popular pass-catching targets. Three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson is 6-5, 230 pounds and Evans is 6-5, 262 pounds.
Seferian-Jenkins, meanwhile, offers interesting intangibles. He ran a 4.71 40-yard dash, has a 35 1/2-inch vertical leap and an 80-inch wingspan.
"He’s a big guy that’s a good blocker but a phenomenal receiver, a big target," Licht said. "Now we have the triple towers, I guess, but as someone I talked about with somebody here — ‘the Dunkaneers.’ "
The Bucs, with Seferian-Jenkins aboard, have worked to address their need to upgrade their pass-catching options. They ranked last in the NFL with an average of 176.2 passing yards per game last season. Jackson was the Bucs’ leader with 1,224 yards receiving in 2013, and tight end Tim Wright finished far in second at 571 yards.
After Wright, no other player had more than running back Brian Leonard’s 179 yards receiving.
"I just wanted to end up playing football," Seferian-Jenkins said. "I just wanted to keep playing. It didn’t matter where. I’m really happy that it’s Tampa. Coach Lovie Smith, (tight ends) coach (Jon) Embree, all those guys, I feel very fortunate to have those guys in my corner."
Sims’ selection, meanwhile, is somewhat surprising considering the considerable running back depth present with Doug Martin and Mike James on roster. In 48 college games from 2009-2013, Sims had 3,465 yards rushing with 40 touchdowns and 2,108 yards receiving with 11 touchdowns.
A first-team All-Conference USA member in the 2011 season, Sims graduated from Houston in May 2013. He considered entering the NFL draft last year, but after discussing the topic with his family, he opted to stay in college but leave Houston’s program.
Sims, in a short time, became effective at West Virginia last fall. He finished with a career-high 1,095 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.
"I can catch the ball and do multiple things out of the backfield," said Sims, who said he patterns his skillset after Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte. "I feel good about the situation."
Licht said Martin’s and James’ health are fine. He said adding Sims is a result of feeling the need to gain an athletic running back when necessary. Sims boasts a 4.48-second 40-yard dash time.
"Hey, we have a chance to get a back that has a versatile skillset that can score points for us," Licht said. "We didn’t want to turn it down."
The Bucs currently have three picks left: In the fifth round (143rd overall), the sixth (185th) and the seventh (221st). Look for them to break from their offensive concentration and go defensive with at least one of their selections. Still, some moving and shaking shouldn’t surprise. Licht smiled late Friday night when asked if gaining a fourth-round pick is possible through a trade Saturday. The Bucs still have a need to build offensive line depth. Licht and Smith could turn creative on the draft’s final day.