The Tampa Bay Buccaneers addressed a much-needed position Friday, on day two of the NFL Draft, taking Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins with the 38th overall pick.
“I was just in shock. I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m so blessed and happy,” Seferian-Jenkins said shortly after his selection.
“I’m really, really happy that it’s Tampa. [Head] coach Lovie Smith, [tight ends] coach [John] Embry, all those guys, I feel very fortunate to have those guys in my corner and I’m very, very, very excited to be part of.”
While some teams may have chosen to address more pressing needs like offensive guard and take a tight end later on, general manager Jason Licht said this was the right move for them.
“When a guy is sticking out there like a sore thumb to us, we felt that it was time to pounce.”
And so they did. It was the first time the Bucs had ever selected a tight end as high as the second round, and just the fifth time in franchise history that the team chose one in the first three rounds.
At 6 foot 6, 270 pounds, he’s another massive target for quarterback Josh McCown.
Yesterday in the first round, Tampa Bay selected 6-foot-5, 231-pound Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans to line up opposite Vincent Jackson, who’s 6 foot 5, 230 pounds.
“Now we have triple towers I guess…we’re the ‘Dunkaneers,'” Licht joked. “Maybe we’re starting a new trend here with these big guys with these catch radiuses. It wasn’t on our manual to find these 6-foot-5 guys. It just worked out that way and we’re happy about it.”
It has the potential to be a match-up nightmare for shorter, smaller defenders, whether it’s across the middle or in contested catches on the outside, something Bucs fans can expect a lot of with this new offense.
“Yeah I like our ups,” said Seferian-Jenkins, although he feels his skills exceed those of a glorified receiver.
“I’m gonna bring explosiveness. I’m gonna bring play-making ability. I’m gonna blocking. I’m gonna bring a tight end that can play on all three downs, that’s gonna work hard, chase Super Bowls and win as many games as possible for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization.”
He also said that he’s going to bring a smaller frame than what he played with last year at Washington, weighing 260 to 265 pounds instead of 276. Some talent evaluators felt it weighed him down.
“I was just asked to do more in the run blocking game and I thought that it would help by gaining weight. And it really didn’t. I learned that it had to do with technique, so I’m not gonna be that heavy anymore. It really just comes down now to technique and fundamentals.”
He won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end in 2013 after catching 36 passes for 450 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. According to statistics provided by the Buccaneers scouting department, he had 77 key blocks his final year with 16 touchdown-resulting blocks and 20 downfield blocks.
In 2012, he had 69 catches for 852 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. As a blocker, he had 64 key blocks, 10 touchdown-resulting blocks and 17 downfield blocks.
He finished his three-year college career with 146 catches for 1,840 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns in 38 games, including 35 starts.
And it all culminated into becoming just the second tight end selected in this year’s draft. UNC’s Eric Ebron was taken in the first round by the Detroit Lions.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m so blessed and happy. Everything I’ve been through, [having] my family here with me, people that couldn’t be here, couldn’t make it, through life, or whatever, that I made it. I made it to this point.”
His journey is just beginning though.
“There’s still a lot more work to do. There’s a lot more things to achieve. There’s a lot of room to improve but I got to a place where I wanted to be, and now it’s time to get to the next level, bring my game to the next level and helping this organization get to the next level.”