Alan Dell

Bucs could regret drafting Syracuse receiver

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik has staked his reputation on this year’s NFL draft, which makes his choice of Mike Williams so puzzling.

The Syracuse receiver is one of the most troubled players among the 255 selected, and his comments before and after the draft didn’t do anything to dispel that notion.

He was chosen in the fourth round, which might soften the criticism. But coming off a three-win season, the Bucs don’t have the luxury of squandering a draft choice, particularly at receiver.

Every draftee is coached on what to say, and every college coach wants his players drafted because it’s an enormous recruiting boost. So when Dominik says he based much of his evaluation on his talks with Williams and his coach, it raises questions whether the GM is as naïve as his critics claim.

Some of the things Williams said on draft day and in the days before should have set off an alarm.

“If I don’t go in the first round, I am going to be the steal of the NFL draft,” he told the Buffalo News earlier this month.

Sounds like a guy who just doesn’t get it.

The rap on Williams is he makes bad choices and is very immature. He also likes to use the Internet to present his side of an argument, which can’t endear him to NFL teams.

The 6-2, 221-pound receiver has talent, but that might be the only thing going for him.

He missed his junior season at Syracuse, reportedly for cheating on an exam. He came back his senior year and was suspended after his sixth game for what the school said was a violation of team rules.

Two weeks later he quit the team because he said he was expecting another suspension, this time for being involved in a car accident at around 5 a.m. on his way back from a casino. The other players in that car did get suspended.

Williams could’ve admitted the cheating after his selection, but instead went into a diatribe about bringing the wrong notes into his exam and sounded like he was a victim.

He says all his issues at Syracuse were school issues, not off-the-field issues, a puzzling statement in itself. Is it supposed to lead us to believe he was in a driver’s ed class during that early morning collision?

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Southeast High grad Aaron Higdon was invited to the Detroit Lions rookie minicamp, which begins today. The running back/returner was given the same opportunity to participate in the Bucs’ rookie camp.

He chose Detroit on advice from his uncle, Alvoid Mays, who played six years in the NFL after beginning his career at Manatee High and then West Virginia.

The 5-9, 185-pound Higdon worked out for the Lions and the Kansas City Chiefs prior to the draft. He played at Division II Charleston (W. Va) where he was an electrifying punt and kick returner and led the nation (Division I and II) with 9.9 yards a carry from scrimmage.

“I thought my best chances were with Detroit,” the 22-year-old said. “They are looking at me predominately as a return man, but also as a possible running back or receiver. I will be up there for three days and hopefully be at their training camp in July. It’s lit a fire under me. I don’t take no for an answer. I was a late bloomer coming out of high school.”