The Buccaneers continued to prepare for training camp by signing more of their draft picks. Saturday, Tampa Bay signed their sixth-round pick linebacker Geno Hayes. The Bucs also reached contract agreements with safety Donte Nicholson, defensive end Charles Bennett, and wide receiver Chad Lucas.
The 6-foot-1, 226-pound Hayes played collegiately at Florida State. Hayes earned All-ACC honors for his junior season, making 80 tackles, five sacks, and 17.5 tackles for a loss. In 35 career games, Hayes recorded 156 tackles, eight sacks, 29.5 tackles for a loss, seven passes defensed, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. The speedy Hayes ran a 4.67 40-yard dash prior to the draft.
Hayes is considered to have talent to have been drafted much earlier in the draft. The reason for his slide is considered to be off the field issues. A few years ago Hayes was arrested and charged with battery on an officer, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest without violence. Hayes also had academic issues, and was not enrolled at Florida State when he played in last January's Music City Bowl. The enrollment issues forced Hayes to enter the NFL draft.
Hayes will compete for a roster spot with backup linebackers: Quincy Black, Adam Hayward, Teddy Lehman, Matt McCoy, Ryan Nece, and Antoine Cash.
Bennett was a seventh-round pick of the Bucs in the 2006 NFL Draft. He spent all of last season on injured-reserve after tearing a knee ligament. In his rookie season he played in three games and made two tackles.
Lucas was on Tampa Bay's practice squad for the majority of last season. He was promoted to the active roster during the season. In the season finale against Carolina, Lucas got the start and hauled in five passes for 82 yards.
In the 2005 NFL Draft, the Bucs selected Nicholson in the fifth round. The Oklahoma product has been on and off the roster over the past three seasons. In the past two years he has appeared in two games for the Buccaneers. As a rookie he played in nine games making nine tackles on special teams.
With the signing of Hayes, Tampa Bay has signed three of its 2008 draft picks. Seventh round running back Cory Boyd, and fourth round defensive tackle Dre Moore have signed previously. The remaining rookies for the Bucs to sign are cornerback Aqib Talib, wide receiver Dexter Jackson, offensive tackle Jeremy Zuttah, and quarterback Josh Johnson.
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