The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended the first day of the draft by using their third-round selection on New Mexico linebacker Quincy Black, who is one of the most athletic players in the draft.

Black, who was the 68th overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, ran a 4.45 at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and opened eyes with a 42-inch vertical jump. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound physical specimen impressed scouts by posting 24 reps of 225 pounds.

Black’s numbers on the field were quite impressive, too. He has a career total of 195 tackles, three forced fumbles, four interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), nine pass breakups and 1.5 sacks at New Mexico. In 2006, Black had 114 tackles and three interceptions, including one returned 88 yards for a touchdown.

As a freshman defensive end at Harper Junior College in 2003, Black recorded 88 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks.

While at New Mexico, Black played the “Lobo” linebacker, which is safety-linebacker hybrid position that allowed him to play a lot in coverage. Chicago Bears Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher popularized the position while he was at New Mexico.

“It’s a scheme people refer to as the Urlacher scheme, where he’s kind of a robber playing in a semi-deep middle linebacker position or shallow free safety position,” said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. “They allowed him to run sideline-to-sideline and make plays. It’s not a defense that’s conventional in terms of other teams running it. It’s the same position Brian [Urlacher] played when he was at New Mexico, and it worked out okay for him. But he’s accustomed to playing a little bit deeper than a linebacker normally does and a little bit shallower than a normal free safety does. And they try to use his speed to get sideline-to-sideline and make plays, and he does a pretty good job of that.”

Gruden indicated that Black’s speed and athleticism jumped out on film and those are two traits the Bucs crave at the linebacker position.

“I think he’s going to be an outside linebacker,” Gruden said. “I think Barrett Ruud will start off for us as the middle linebacker. Cato [June] obviously comes in and gives us more speed, I think some versatility in the nickel. And so will this guy, Quincy Black. It’s a good, exciting time upstairs, especially for the defensive guys. They got three guys – one a pass rusher who can be great, a safety man who’s a playmaker who will certainly help us and a linebacker who can do a lot of things for us on any down.

“Whether he starts off at WILL or as the SAM linebacker, technically, remains to be seen. But we’ll let him run around in our first mini-camp this upcoming weekend and get a real good feel for him, and what looks good, what feels good and go from there. But he’ll be on the field doing some things for us. He’s an exciting guy. You’re going to like the way he runs around and hits, and we need it.”

Black is far from a finished product. He is still raw in some areas of his game and has a tendency to miss some tackles. But Gruden said that his physical abilities can make up for some of his mistakes, and he likes the fact that he could help Tampa Bay’s pass rush as a linebacker or someone like Patrick Chukwurah, who puts their hand on the ground as an edge rusher.

“He’s a rare athlete,” Gruden said of Black. “I think once we harness it a little bit towards one position just to get him taught, the basics and the fundamentals of what we want done, it will help him. He’s going to be a creative player who we can use creatively, whether it be blitz and covering on special teams. When you run a 4.4 and like to hit, those are the guys that we want around here.

“I think he’s put his hands down in certain situations in nickel and rush, much like Trent Cole from Philadelphia. Some of the smaller guys get a different size rusher that runs 4.4. He goes to the combine, I don’t know how strong he is, but he’s one of the stronger guys in Indianapolis. He’s a great kid. He wants to be here and he wants to be a football player. With his traits and his overall athletic ability, we’re going to be hard-pressed not to put him on the field.”

Black, who had a pre-draft visit to Tampa Bay, was excited to be drafted by the Buccaneers.

“I came up there for a visit and I spent a lot of time with the coaching staff up there,” Black said. “I felt that I left a very good impression on them.

“I feel happy to have the opportunity to get drafted and play for an NFL team, the Buccaneers, and the defense that they run, I think it’s a good fit – I think it’s a great fit.”

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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