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Monday, Jan 21, 2019
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Martin Fennelly Columns

Fennelly: Right move, Bucs. Now get a receiver

TAMPA — Bucs coach Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht have done what was needed.

Why it took this long is beyond me.

Mike Williams was already heading over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The Bucs made it easier for him Friday when they traded him and his salary to Buffalo for a sixth-round draft pick.

Here’s the catch:

The Bucs need a receiver.

In fact, they need a receiver in this NFL draft, first round.

Don’t you hate when NFL teams need receivers in the first round who aren’t named Calvin Johnson?

Don’t you hate when the Bucs need a receiver in the first round? Especially when Josh McCown is the quarterback, and when you could make a good case for picking a successor from among Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater?

Don’t you hate when the Bucs need a receiver in the first round when, in franchise history, the two receivers they’ve picked in the first round were Reidel Anthony and Michael Clayton?

There’s quarterback, there’s offensive line ... perfectly good choices. Yes, you can get a receiver later.

You can get a quarterback later, too, or an offensive lineman. Deep draft.

Look at the top receivers: Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans.

I’d take either one of them.

I’d trade up to get Watkins.

I hate taking receivers in the first round.

But there’s Watkins, a fly guy, catch and run, run, run.

Wonder what that looks like.

He might be gone, gone, gone when the Bucs pick.

Evans should be there at No. 7.

Grab him.

I’d even take Evans over his Aggies teammate, Johnny Football, who I think will be more Flutie than Favre in the NFL.

Bridgewater is another story. I’d have to think about taking him.

But I still don’t think there’s an Andrew Luck in this draft.

There’s a Mike Evans, though.

I saw him on TV seven or eight times the last two seasons while watching Manziel. It was a show of shows. I’m convinced Evans sometimes made Manziel look good as much as Manziel made Evans look good.

The guy is big, 6-5, 230, has arms 12 feet long. He goes and gets footballs.

He doesn’t have Watkins’ breakaway speed, so you’re probably thinking he’s another Vincent Jackson.

Jackson never met a defensive back who couldn’t run him down.

But Evans outraced Alabama’s secondary. He broke tackles in games. He was a load. I saw him dominate.

McCown needs targets, fast, and in Evans and Jackson, he’d have big guys, like when he briefly lit it up in Chicago last season with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. It’s just a matter of whether Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford can design plays to free them up, certainly not a given.

What we knew for sure was that Mike Williams had to go.

You know how we know it was the right move? Because former Bucs GM Mark Dominik nearly instantly took to the radio waves for his new mother ship, ESPN, to explain why he signed Williams to a $40 million deal in the middle of Williams making off-field messy pants.

By the way, with the Williams trade, only Gerald McCoy remains from the Bucs’ 2010 draft class. There is no one left from the 2009 draft class.

I hate taking receivers in the first round.

There’s quarterback, there’s linebacker ...

I hate taking receivers in the first round.

I’ve mentioned that, right?

Grab one.

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