Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brandon Marshall

After drafting mega-sized receiver Mike Evans and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht suggested a new team nickname.

"We're the Dunkaneers," Licht said.

[+] EnlargeMike Evans
AP Photo/Chris O'MearaAt 6-foot-5, rookie Mike Evans is one of several tall receivers on the Tampa Bay roster.
Evans, Seferian-Jenkins and veteran wideout Vincent Jackson each are at least 6-foot-5, giving the Bucs a group of receivers who resemble an NBA roster. Seferian-Jenkins actually played college basketball for one season.

The Bucs certainly need big-time help: In 2013, they ranked last in passing offense (176 yards per game) and 23rd in red-zone efficiency. Based on his history, new quarterback Josh McCown will enjoy having tall targets.

Playing for Chicago last year, McCown connected with Brandon Marshall (6-4), Alshon Jeffery (6-4) or Martellus Bennett (6-6) on nine of his 13 touchdown passes, including five in the red zone.

If nothing else, it will be difficult for McCown to overthrow the Bucs' big three. Evans made that clear with one particular catch during June minicamp, fully extending to make a one-handed grab worthy of a highlight reel.

"You take a player that high in the draft," new head coach Lovie Smith said of Evans, the seventh overall pick, "you expect to see some spectacular plays."

The highlight show has continued early in training camp with Evans, Seferian-Jenkins and Jackson all making nice catches. If the Bucs get those big-time plays in the regular season, their fans can expect to see a significant improvement over last season's four-win disappointment.
While playing in Chicago last year, Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown had a lot of success throwing to a pair of big receivers – Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.

That’s why it’s no coincidence the Buccaneers drafted 6-foot-4 Mike Evans in the first round Thursday night. Evans instantly will enter the starting lineup opposite 6-5 Vincent Jackson. That will give the Bucs one of the biggest receiver tandems in the NFL. Coach Lovie Smith even jokingly referred to Evans and Jackson as the “twin towers.’’

“I think if you look at the league last year – and I of course had a lot of time to watch the league last year – I saw what two big receivers can do,’’ Smith said. “It’s a tough matchup if you just look at the average height of most cornerbacks in this league. You might have a 6-foot corner, but you normally don’t have two big guys that can match up like that.’’

Critics will say the Bucs still need a speed receiver and there’s some truth to that. But the Bucs now have two starting-caliber receivers – something they didn’t have before the draft. The Bucs still have time to find a speed receiver to put in the slot.

“We want to score points in any way we can,’’ Smith said. “This is a combination that looked pretty attractive to us. Of course, having a player like Josh McCown here – Josh, of course, has been in that situation and to say Josh has been in our ear quite a bit is an understatement. Seeing that [combination in Chicago] work like that was attractive to us, but as much as anything, we saw a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball that we had a chance to get that we really felt like could help us.”
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t been a team known for trash talking since the days of Warren Sapp and Keyshawn Johnson.

That is not likely to change now that Lovie Smith has taken over as head coach. Smith’s philosophy on trash talking is best summarized by one incident that took place when he was coaching the Chicago Bears.

Chicago receiver Brandon Marshall made some noise about how the Green Bay Packers couldn’t cover him one-on-one. Smith’s reaction came in one concise sentence.

“Talking doesn’t get a lot done," Smith said at the time.

It shouldn’t be hard for Smith’s philosophy to be adapted by the Bucs. In recent years, they haven’t been big talkers. Guys like Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson play with a swagger. They also can be quite engaging with the media, but they usually stop well short of anything that would qualify as trash talk.
The latest installment of #NFLRank is out, and it includes Nos. 41-50 for offense and defense. This segment is filled with NFC South players. Let’s take a look.


43. Tampa Bay guard Carl Nicks

Stats & Info: Nicks missed nine games last season, his first with the Buccaneers after signing a five-year, $47.5 million deal as a free agent last offseason. Nicks earned more than $24 million last season, which ranked fourth in the NFL behind only Drew Brees, Vincent Jackson and Mario Williams, according to the Roster Management System.

Yasinskas comment: There is obvious concern about his health, because he has a staph infection and is coming off a major foot injury. But, when he’s healthy, Nicks might be the best guard in the league.

44. New Orleans guard Jahri Evans

Stats & Info: Evans has played 5,242 offensive snaps since 2008, ranking second in the NFL behind only Justin Blalock. A first-team All-Pro each of the past four seasons, Evans has started every game for the Saints in the Drew Brees era (since 2006).

Yasinskas comment: Evans is the anchor of an offensive line that has been good for a long time. Other players have come and gone, but Evans has been the constant.

45. Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson

Stats & Info: Jackson was Tampa Bay's safety valve on third down last season, ranking fourth in the NFL in third-down targets behind only Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker and Calvin Johnson. On third down, Jackson had 20 catches resulting in a first down, ranking behind only Roddy White.

Yasinskas comment: He joined Tampa Bay last season and instantly became quarterback Josh Freeman’s favorite target. He and Freeman should be even more comfortable after a year together.


41. Tampa Bay safety Dashon Goldson

Stats & Info: Goldson defended the most passes (10) when lined up as a safety in 2012. Eight of them were thrown less than 20 yards downfield, which also led all safeties.

Yasinskas comment: The Bucs knew they were getting a talented player when they signed Goldson away from San Francisco. They also have discovered Goldson brings even more to the table. He already has emerged as a defensive leader.

NFC South to date:


43. Nicks

44. Evans

45. Jackson

51. Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin

65. New Orleans wide receiver Marques Colston

70. Carolina center Ryan Kalil

71. Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith

86. New Orleans guard Ben Grubbs

87. Atlanta running back Steven Jackson

98. Carolina offensive tackle Jordan Gross

100. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton


41. Goldson

51. Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy

55. Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson

80. Atlanta cornerback Asante Samuel

86. Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon

93. Atlanta safety William Moore

96. Atlanta defensive end Osi Umenyiora

97. Tampa Bay safety Mark Barron

98. Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David