The Bucs continued to address the defensive side of the ball on the third day of the 2013 NFL Draft with Buffalo outside linebacker Steven Means, who played defensive end in college. Means had 19.5 career sacks in his Buffalo career, but will move to linebacker in Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers continued to make defense the priority on the third day of the draft, selecting Buffalo’s Steven Means after drafting Illinois defensive tackle Akeem Spence and Michigan State defensive end William Gholston in the fourth round.
The 6-foot-3, 257-pound Means played defensive end for Buffalo, but projects to the role of outside linebacker at the next level. Means, who was a team captain at Buffalo, ran really well at his pro day with many scouts saying he ran in the 4.6 range and looked the part of an NFL player.
“I am willing to do whatever I have to,” Means said. “Even if they want me to snap the ball I will do that. But I have been talking to Tampa specifically about linebacker. That’s the position I am willing to go in there and transition through and just contribute.”
His selection in the fifth round comes as a surprise as Means was projected to be an undrafted free agent by many NFL scouting services in the media after not being invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.
“I always had that tough road to go through,” Means said. “I always had to sneak through the back door to have a chance for me to showcase my talents. It started from high school. I had to get through people that my grandfather knew and college the same way. Just going through this process it wasn’t an alarm for me to not go to the combine because I have been going through this my whole life. For somebody to just give me a shot and see how I really am in person and how I really am on the field … [but] I definitely had to go through a lot of adversity. I fought through it and that is something that they liked.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing at the next level, but it actually started to sink in when I was getting calls from coaches this offseason and it definitely hit me after my pro day. That’s when I realized I would be somewhere, whether it’s in free agency or the draft. So March 5, my pro day, that’s when I realized it was definitely going to happen.”
Means recorded 186 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, 19.5 sacks, nine pass breakups, five blocked kicks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions, one of which was returned 42 for a touchdown against Bowling Green in 2011.
As a freshman in 2009, Means had 25 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and five sacks, and followed up that initial campaign with 50 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception as a sophomore.
As a junior, the Buffalo defender recorded 33 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two blocked kicks and an interception before having his best season as a senior in 2012. Last year, Means recorded 78 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, three blocked kicks and a forced fumble.
“I came up in an environment where it’s not easy,” said Means, who is a New York native. “So I don’t really like anybody touching me and that’s probably why I’m a decent pass rusher. I don’t like offensive linemen especially touching me, so I try to get them off of me as quick as possible and I like making plays. I love hitting the quarterback.”
Means is known for his nasty demeanor, which helps his tenacious pass-rushing ability.
“I’m definitely quick tempered on the field,” Means said. “I get mad at somebody just lining up across from me. Just thinking that they can block me gets me mad, so you’ll definitely see a lot of that on the field this year.”
With the selection of Means, the Bucs now have nine linebackers, including Lavonte David, Mason Foster, Adam Hayward, Jonathan Casillas, Dekoda Watson, Jacob Cutrera, Najee Goode and Joe Holland.– Victoria Horchak contributed to this report
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