The University of South Florida held its pro day workout on Tuesday, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a presence on the college campus, which is just a few miles down the road from One Buccaneer Place.
The Bucs were represented by pro scout Doug Williams, special teams coordinator Richard Bisaccia and an unidentified scout. Neither Bucs head coach Raheem Morris nor general manager Mark Dominik were in attendance, but it's worth noting that USF's pro day workout competed against others, including ones held by UCLA, where defensive tackle Brian Price worked out, and former Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, who worked out in Texas.
Like the other NFL teams on hand, the Buccaneers had their eyes on several of USF's pro prospects entering the 2010 NFL Draft, including Bulls defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and George Selvie, safety Nate Allen, cornerback Jereome Murphy, wide receiver Carlton Mitchell, linebacker Kion Wilson and quarterback Matt Grothe.
None of USF's pro day workout times (including 40-yard dash) were immediately available.
Pierre-Paul is the player most NFL scouts, front office executives and coaches, including New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin and Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, came out to see. He showcased his athleticism at the combine by running a 4.64 time in the 40-yard dash. The former JUCCO transfer opened some eyes in 2009 by notching 6.5 sacks and raising havoc in opposing teams' offensive backfields in his debut with the Bulls.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Pierre-Paul is projected to be a first-round pick and could be the highest draft pick that ever came out of USF. Some have even linked him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have a need for a pass-rushing defensive end and own the number three overall pick in the draft.
Pierre-Paul's partner in crime, Selvie, had a much more productive collegiate career, notching 27 sacks, including 14 as a sophomore. However, Selvie (6-3, 252) is considered undersized and might not be targeted by many teams that run the 4-3 defense. Selvie is also not entering the draft with much momentum. He notched just three sacks in 2009 and hasn't impressed this offseason. At the combine, Selvie ran a 4.89 time in the 40-yard dash. Still, Selvie is a player the Bucs could target if he falls in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Behind Pierre-Paul, Allen is considered the next best Bulls player, and like both USF defensive ends, Allen could be on Tampa Bay's radar. Allen (6-0, 207) had 10 interceptions and one touchdown at USF, including four as a senior. He didn't run at the combine, but Allen still is projected to be a second-round pick in April. Allen's chances of landing with Tampa Bay slipped substantially when the team signed Philadelphia S Sean Jones in free agency.
But Allen, who has been unable to run the 40-yard dash this offseason while he recovers from an injury, is one of several Bulls players that has a private workout scheduled with Tampa Bay at One Buc Place next month.
"I'm scheduled to visit with Dallas and Kansas City. I'm not exactly sure when, but I do have a private workout scheduled with Tampa Bay," said Allen, who has been working out in Arizona. "I talked with Coach Morris and the Bucs at the Senior Bowl. I would love to play anywhere, but staying in Tampa to play in the NFL would be really special."
The Bucs still have needs at cornerback and wide receiver, which make Murphy and Mitchell players that Tampa Bay could seriously consider drafting in April.
Murphy (6-0, 196) had eight interceptions at USF, including four as a senior. He ran a 4.52 time in the 40-yard dash at the combine.
Mitchell (6-3, 215) really helped his draft stock with an impressive workout at the combine in Indianapolis. He ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, which was a very good time for a big receiver. The early-entry junior finished his collegiate career with 105 receptions for 1,648 yards (15.6 avg.) and nine touchdowns.
"It's been a long process, starting with training for the combine all the way to this point," said Mitchell. "My day is planned out each day except for Sunday. That's my day to relax and be free. It's pretty exciting. I'm drained and tired all the time, but at the same time this is what I see myself doing. This is who I am and my life.
"I learned at a very young age that the NFL is a business and they don't need me, so any opportunity I get I'm going to take it and run with it."
One player that some were surprised to see participate in USF’s pro day workout was Grothe, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in late-September.
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Grothe sported a knee brace, but participated in all the workouts. In addition to running the 40-yard dash, Grothe put his arm on display by handling all of the passing.
Grothe, 23, completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 8,669 yards and tossed 52 touchdowns and 44 interceptions in four years with the Bulls. USF utilized his mobility by having him carry the ball 545 times for 2,206 yards and 23 touchdowns.
The Bucs are ready to take a closer look at the Lakeland native. Grothe revealed Tuesday that he’s scheduled to have a private workout with Tampa Bay next week.
“I’ve gone from thinking I might not even be able to walk right again to running,” Grothe said of his rehab from the knee injury. “I’ve come a long way in a short amount of time. I’m proud of myself and I’m just going to keep working.
“I’m just going to keep working out, and I’ve got a workout next Thursday with Tampa Bay. We’ll go from there.”
Because the USF campus is just a few miles away from Tampa Bay's training facility, the Buccaneers can invite Bulls players to One Buc Place for private workouts between now and the draft without having them count against the 30 collegiate player private workouts each team is allowed to host each year.
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