S Donte Nicholson excelled in and out of the box in Oklahoma's outstanding defense
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers like hard hitters in their secondary. They got one in Oklahoma strong safety Donte Nicholson.
Nicholson, a very physical 6-1, 216-pound defender, was the 141st player selected overall, going to the Buccaneers four picks into the fifth round. He is the second defensive player taken by the Buccaneers, both out of the rugged Big 12 Conference. In the second round, Tampa Bay selected Nebraska linebacker Barrett Ruud.
The team also was due to make the 144th pick, having obtained that one last year from San Diego, but chose to trade down 11 spots. The Bucs sent that selection to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for number 155 and an extra pick in the seventh round. The Bucs now have four seventh-round choices, as they will also pick 221st, 225th and 253rd.
The Oklahoma defense was one of the best in the nation in 2003 and 2004 and Nicholson, a junior college transfer, was often in the middle of the action. In two seasons with the Sooners, he started all 27 games and racked up 162 tackles, three interceptions, 10 passes defensed and eight sacks.
Nicholson did it all in the Sooners' defense. As a junior, he primarily played up "in the box" as a run-support safety and was good for 90 tackles and six sacks. Last season, he was used deeper in coverage and came up with 72 tackles, one interception, six passes defensed and two sacks.
As his sacks suggest, Nicholson is a strong blitzer, a trait that could be very valuable in the Buccaneers' aggressive defense. He also tackles well and breaks quickly on the ball.
Before transferring to Oklahoma, Nicholson starred at Mount San Antonio Junior College. He was the defensive player of the year in his conference in both of his seasons and a second-team All-American as a sophomore. The 23-year-old Nicholson hails from Diamond Bar, California.