It’s pretty much a given that the Panthers and Buccaneers are in the market for wide receivers. The Panthers need a No. 2 guy to play opposite Steve Smith and the Bucs need a No. 1 guy as Antonio Bryant walks out the door.
Neither team is likely to get an elite receiver in the draft. The Bucs have the No. 3 overall pick, but they’re more likely to use that on a defensive tackle than on Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant. The Panthers don’t have a pick until the second round, the same round in which the Bucs have two picks.
Here’s a name to keep an eye on for both teams around that time: Louisville’s Scott Long. He went into the combine projected as a mid- or late-round pick. His performance in Indianapolis likely helped his stock and could push him into the second or third round.
Long ran a 4.46 40-yard dash. Not bad, but it was seventh best among receivers and it’s not going to qualify him as a “burner.’’ But you need to look beyond the 40 time to get a better picture of how Long helped himself at the combine. His 11.0 seconds time in the 60-yard shuttle was first among receivers, and he also had the best vertical jump at 41.5 inches. Long also was the strongest of the receivers, recording 20 reps on the bench press.
Long’s best event was the three-cone drill. He did that in 6.45 seconds, the best time of any player (at any position) at the combine.
Numbers at the combine don’t mean everything. But I’m just saying keep an eye on Long when it comes to the Panthers and Bucs. They both have a need and Long might fit it.