Tampa Bay Bucs aiming high with second draft pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins

adell@bradenton.comMay 10, 2014 

Fight Hunger Bowl Football

Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins during the Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 27, in San Francisco. ASSOCIATED PRESS

MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ — AP

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Bucs may have the best basketball team in the NFL.

And they might not be bad on the football field either.

The Bucs chose Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound tight end with an 80-inch wingspan with the 38th overall pick in the NFL draft on Friday night.

Seferian-Jenkins follows receiver Mike Evans (6-5, 231 pounds), who was selected with the seventh overall pick Thursday. They join an offense that has featured 6-5, 230-pound receiver Vincent Jackson.

They will give the Bucs one of the tallest receiving corps in the NFL and include two guys (Seferian-Jenkins and Evans) who were good enough to play NCAA Division I College basketball.

Seferian-Jenkins, winner of the Mackey Award as the best tight end in 2013, averaged 19 points and eight rebounds his senior year of high school and played one season for the Washington basektball team. Evans averaged 18 points and eight rebounds in high school and turned down a scholarship to play basketball at Texas.

"Playing basketball at a high level helps adjusting to the ball in the air, and all that stuff translates to playing tight end in the National Football League," Seferian-Jenkins said.

Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said he loves those basketball players because of their soft hands, athleticism and ability to go up and catch the ball in traffic.

Seferian-Jenkins has been compared to New England's Rob Gronkowski and former Atlanta Falcon Tony Gonzalez, but says he is more like Pittsburgh's Heath Miller.

"I don't want to compare myself to anyone else, but I definitely have the best hands in the class," he said. "I think I do some of the things Jimmy Graham can do, he's a phenomenal player. I try to model myself after him and after Heath Miller being an all around tight end."

As a sophomore at Washington, Seferian-Jenkins caught 69 passes for 852 yards. Last year, the Huskies changed from a pro-style offense to a spread offense that featured more running, and his numbers dropped to 36 receptions for 450 yards.

Steferian-Jenkins also put on more weight under the new system to help with his blocking, but after the season dropped 20 pounds to his current weight.

A possible concern about Steferian-Jenkins that apparently did not scare Smith, and Bucs GM Jason Licht was that he was diagnosed with a hairline stress fracture in his left foot prior to the NFL combine.

Steferian-Jenkins says he is 100 percent and last month. carrying 20 fewer pounds and healthy. ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash.

"Austin has not reached his potential yet, and I think that's the beauty of drafting a player like him. He's still got plenty of room to improve," Washington head football coach Steve Sarkisian said.

NFL network guru Mike Mayock said Steferian-Jenkins could play in any scheme and said there is still room for improvement in his blocking.

The only negative mark against Steferian-Jenkins is that he received a DUI last year. Everyone associated with the now-21-year-old said it was uncharacteristic of him, and he has vowed never to allow it to happen again.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy," he told NFL.com.

Noteworthy

In a surprise move, the Bucs used their third-round pick (69th overall) to select running back Charles Sims from West Virginia, who played his first three seasons at Houston.

The 6-0, 215-pound Sims ran a 4.46 40 at the combine and rushed for 1,095 yards last season.

The Bucs have a plethora of running backs, so this move might seem surprising except Smith loves players from Texas. The Bucs have running backs Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey, Mike James and hybrid Jeff Demps. Tampa Bay also has seven tight ends on its roster.

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