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As the 2006 NFL Draft (April 29-30) moves closer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the midst of flying in draft prospects for interviews and personal workouts at One Buccaneer Place, as well as attending private workouts at the prospects’ colleges. PewterReport.com has obtained the names of some of the individuals who have either met with the Buccaneers or will meet with later this month.

The stock of Fresno State junior cornerback Richard Marshall is rising and he may not even be on the draft board when Tampa Bay selects in the second round. But the Bucs are high on this speedy, playmaking defensive back. He was among the first players the Buccaneers scheduled a visit with after the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Tampa Bay was well represented at his pro day in March with both position coaches and scouts.

The Buccaneers have either met with or plan to meet with Miami (Fla.) offensive tackles Eric Winston and Rashad Butler. Tampa Bay is trying to determine where Winston, a former tight end who wound up playing left tackle, will fit in the NFL. Winston has short arms (32 inches) didn’t end the season on a high note and may have to move to right tackle or guard in the NFL as he has struggled with speed rushers ever since his 2004 knee injury.

Butler played right tackle for the Hurricanes, but at 6-foot-5, 290 pounds, he’ll have to hit the weight room to add strength and bulk to his frame. He’s a good athlete, but Butler is not ready to start. He’s a developmental offensive tackle.

Tampa Bay has also taken a strong interest in Oklahoma guard Davin Joseph, who could be targeted in the second round. Joseph is an athletic offensive lineman with long arms and good power. The Bucs were scouting him hard in person at the Senior Bowl. He also has the mean streak the Tampa Bay offensive line coach Bill Muir likes.

Faithful readers of PewterReport.com’s SR’s Fab Five know we’re big fans of Maryland inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and have been for some time. Jackson is an intelligent tackling machine with great leadership qualities and tremendous instincts.

As you may recall from PewterReport.com’s Senior Bowl coverage, Jackson, who is a native of Largo, Fla. and a die-hard Buccaneers fan, asked Pewter Report to “put a good word in for him with the Bucs.” With the SR’s Fab Five column widely read at One Buccaneer Place, we were happy to oblige him by mentioning it.

Of course Tampa Bay’s scouts are smart enough to realize he’s a dynamite player with a dynamite attitude on their own, and that’s why they have an interest in setting up a visit with Jackson. The real problem for Tampa Bay is that they drafted a middle linebacker in Barrett Ruud last year in the second round, which is where Jackson will be drafted this year.

The Bucs feel that Jackson is strictly a Mike (middle linebacker) because he runs in the high 4.6-4.7 range in the 40-yard dash. But maybe the quicker and faster Ruud could be moved to weakside to accommodate Jackson. Or maybe the Bucs will just pass on Jackson altogether.

The last player on our list is an NAIA draft prospect from Pikeville College in Kentucky – cornerback/return specialist E.J. Underwood. While it is unclear whether or not the Buccaneers will have him in for a visit, Tampa Bay was at his pro day workout and saw the 5-foot-11, 179-pounder run a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash and turn in a 41-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump.

To say that Underwood, who has run as fast as 4.29, is an amazing athlete is an understatement. Underwood transferred from Ohio State in 2005 after flunking out of school, but he’s no dummy, evidenced by a 3.2 GPA in high school and a 27 score on his ACT. He simply didn’t apply himself and attend class at Ohio State and the player head coach Jim Tressell called, “one of the most talented cornerbacks he has ever coached” was kicked out of school for poor grades.

Instead of beating out Ashton Youboty and replacing Chris Gamble at cornerback for the Buckeyes, Underwood was Pikeville’s best cornerback, notching 49 tackles, six pass breakups, forcing two fumbles, recovering two fumbles and picking off one pass. He also blocked a kick and returned a blocked kick 71 yards for a touchdown on special teams, in addition to averaging 14.6 yards on 22 punt returns and scoring a 77-yard touchdown and 27.9 yards on kick returns.

Underwood also contributed four catches for 77 yards on offense, including a 43-yarder. He is viewed as a late Day 2 draft prospect. Expect the Bucs to possibly be interested in burning one of those extra sixth- or seventh-rounders on him.


This story is intended to be read by Pewter Insider subscribers only. Sharing of the PI content with non-subscribers of this service can result in cancellation of your subscription to the service and/or further actions by the publishers.



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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 PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com 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: sr@pewterreport.com
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