The Tampa Bay Buccaneers issued a press release Thursday stating that contract talks are wrapping up with two players from its seven-man 2016 draft class.
Fourth-round selection Ryan Smith has been signed and the team agreed to terms with fifth-round pick Caleb Benenoch.
Smith, who played his college ball at North Carolina Central, comes to Tampa Bay as the 18th cornerback selected in this year’s draft. At 6-foot, 190-pounds, Smith’s stock rose quickly following his redshirt senior season. He started four seasons with the Eagles and broke school records for solo tackles (168) and kickoff return yard average (28.1).
The Bucs announced Smith will wear No. 29 in Tampa Bay. An active player hasn’t donned those digits since cornerback Kyle Arrington in 2009 and Smith can become the fourth player in franchise history to do so, also joining running back Leon Bright (1984-85) and running back Michael Bennett (2007-08).
Benenoch was the first of two offensive players selected by the Bucs in this year’s draft, followed by fullback Dan Vitale in the sixth round. Tampa Bay made the UCLA product the draft’s 25th offensive lineman selected out of 41 total. Benenoch (6-foot-5, 305-pounds) moved to Katy, Texas after spending his first nine years in his native Nigeria. He played mostly tackle at UCLA but also filled in at guard and has potential at either position in the NFL.
Benenoch will wear No. 77 as a Buccaneer. Appearing on at least one game-day active roster will make him the fourth to wear the number in team history, following guards Glenn Bujnoch (1983-84) and Rufus Brown (1987), and defensive tackle Brad Culpepper (1994-99). Culpepper also wore No. 73.
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