The 2013 season was one that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would love to forget with a 4-12 record after losing Doug Martin to injury early on. The team has a new coach in Lovie Smith now and a healthy Martin. The 2014 NFL Draft was a chance for the Bucs to make massive improvements with their offense which was worst in rushing yards per game in the NFL last season without Martin. The team’s top three draft choices all came on offense. Here is how Tampa Bay did in this year’s draft in the first three rounds.
Round 1 (Pick 7)- Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel’s favorite target with the Aggies comes into a Tampa offense that has Vincent Jackson on the other side. At 6-5, Evans will be expected to make a lot of moves in the red zone and could have the best rookie season of any offensive player drafted. Evans had 65 catches for 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013 after catching 82 passes from Manziel in 2012. The Bucs need the wide receiver help and Evans is the perfect No. 2 on the opposite side of Jackson. Grade: A
Round 2 (Pick 38)- Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The tight end position hasn’t instilled a lot of confidence in Tampa fans in recent years. Seferian-Jenkins is another one in the line of pass-catching tight ends in this day and age. He had 36 catches and eight touchdowns last season for the Huskies and provides a big target at 6-6 for either Mike Glennon or Josh McCown to throw to. One of the best tight ends in the draft who appeared to be a first-round pick but goes to a team where he should see lots of action. Grade: A-
Round 3 (Pick 69)- Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
The Buccaneers obviously believed they needed to find another backup for Martin in the backfield by selecting Sims. He rushed for 1,095 yards in 2013 and added 401 receiving yards. It makes him a solid dual threat that can be used in third down situations or to give Martin a break at running back with his 4.46 40 speed. If Martin were to go down again, Sims should be able to step right in without Tampa missing a beat. Sims was a great pick at the spot that the Buccaneers were able to take him. Grade: B+
Tampa Bay put together one of the better drafts even with the few picks they had this season. Evans, Seferian-Jenkins and Sims will each make a major impact on improving a Buccaneers team that could surprise people in 2014.