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Friday, Aug 29, 2014
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs fans cheer draft pick Evans


Published:   |   Updated: May 8, 2014 at 10:27 PM

TAMPA — Judging by the roar, Bucs fans got what they hoped for Thursday night.

Thousands of Bucs faithful at the team's draft party at Raymond James Stadium yelled out their approval when the team used the seventh pick in the draft to select Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans.

Evans, who often is compared to Bucs star receiver Vincent Jackson, received a seven-cannon salute after his name was announced.

Even before the pick was announced, fans said they wanted the team to draft a wide receiver who could be an impact player in his first year and help Jackson, who often faced double coverage last season.

Bucs fan David White said Evans was just what the team needed - a big receiver with great ball-catching skills. “It fills a void we need,'' said White, of Tampa. “It allows us to stretch the field. We have a little versatility now.''

Nick Bertocci said Evans, a consensus All-American, will bring size, speed and a second option for the quarterback.

“He's a rookie so he'll want to make an impact right away,'' said Bertocci, 28, of Tampa.

The Bucs finished 4-12 last year, but drafts are a time for optimism.

“Next year, at a minimum, we make the first round of the playoffs,'' said fan Ray Smith. “We're going to be the Kansas City Chiefs of last year. We're going to have a total turnaround.''

Lorenzo Dickens said he was disappointed but not surprised that Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins was picked before the Bucs number came up. He likes Evans, he said, though he worries he's not fast enough to stretch the field. “He was the best available at this point,'' Dickens said. “It makes the offense more dynamic, they should score more points.''

Dickens said he hoped the Bucs would continue to pick wide receivers and offensive players with later picks. “They need a guy with 4.4 speed.''

Besides the draft, fans at the draft party said they were looking forward to seeing a team with a new coach, new logo and new players added during a busy offseason.

“This is the first time in a long time with an experienced coach,'' said Dennis Schneider, 64, of Tarpon Springs, referring to new Bucs coach Lovie Smith. “I think Lovie is going to make a difference. Just him being the coach, you can add one or two extra wins.''

Although there was a noticeable buzz throughout the draft party over where Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel would go, Bucs fans didn't seem disappointed the Bucs didn't choose the mercurial quarterback, even though Manziel was still on the board.

“I don't want Manziel,'' Schneider said. “I don't think that is going to help us this year. He won't be an immediate fix.''

jpatinogirona@tampatrib.com

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