As Day Three of the 2010 NFL Draft dawned, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued to marry their greatest needs with the most talented players on their board.
Picking third in the fourth stanza - Rounds 4-7 will take place on Saturday in the first-ever three-day draft - the Buccaneers selected former Syracuse WR Mike Williams. Williams joins second-round pick Arrelious Benn, a standout at the University of Illinois as exciting new additions to the Bucs' revamped receiving corps.
Williams played three seasons at Syracuse, appearing in 29 games with 22 starts. He finished with career totals of 133 catches for 2,044 yards and 20 scores, averaging 15.4 yards per catch. His touchdown total matched that of former Syracuse star Marvin Harrison for second on the all-time list at Syracuse, just two behind Rob Moore's record of 22. An impressive combination of size, speed and soft hands, Williams snared 49 passes for 746 yards and six touchdowns in just seven games last fall.
Williams' most productive collegiate season came in 2007, when he started 12 games and finished with 60 receptions for 837 yards and 10 scores. In tying the school's single-season record for receptions, Williams earned second-team All-Big East honors.
Williams was considered one of the most physically gifted receivers available in the 2010 field of prosects, but likely lasted until the third day of the draft because he played only those seven games in 2009 and did not finish the season with his team. The Buccaneers, who have stressed character throughout this draft and in the construction of their current roster, worked diligently to assure themselves that Williams would be a good addition to the team in every way.
"No scouting staff in the league put more time into a selection than the Buccaneers did with this one," said General Manager Mark Dominik. "I personally had multiple conversations with Syracuse Head Coach Doug Marrone and I'm very excited about adding this player to our organization."
Scouting Williams' play on the field was a simpler matter. The 6-2, 212-pound wideout impressed the Buccaneers' personnel men with his play throughout his Syracuse career.
"Mike is a big play-making receiver," said Dominik. "He's got tremendous athletic ability, body control and strong hands. He makes big plays. He's been very productive in all three years at Syracuse. He's certainly a very talented football player that we believe is a valuable addition to our offense."
The Bucs believe they can help Williams elevate his game even further under the strong tutelage of new Wide Receivers Coach Eric Yarber, who comes to the Bucs from the University of Arizona. During his superb career in the college ranks, Yarber has previously worked with the likes of NFL standouts Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Terrell Owens.
The 22-year-old Williams hails from Buffalo, New York, where he starred at Riverside High School. As a two-way player in his senior season, he combined 970 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns on offense with 35 tackles and two interceptions as a defensive back on defense.
This marks the first time the Buccaneers have drafted two receivers in the first four rounds of the draft since 1992 (Miami's Lamar Thomas and Horace Copeland). It was an obvious area of need for the team after the departure of free agent Antonio Bryant. Behind tight end Kellen Winslow and his team-high 77 catches last year, the Bucs' leading receiver was Bryant with 39. Williams joins Benn and 2009 seventh-round find Sammie Stroughter (31 receptions as a rookie) as exciting new additions to the receiving corps.