Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Cook up Fullback Depth

Tampa Bay uses its first sixth-round pick on Illinois fullback Jameel Cook


FB Jameel Cook displayed his passcatching skills at Illinois and wants to show off his blocking as a pro

Most of the Buccaneers' free agent activity this season has been of the arrival ilk. The team's only two free agent losses so far have been LB Don Davis and TE Patrick Hape.

Hape was a big part of the team's run-blocking game, however, so it was no surprise to see the team grab a fullback in this weekend's draft. The Buccaneers used the first of two sixth-round selections to grab Illinois FB Jameel Cook.

Cook is actually a very good passcatching fullback, as evidenced by his 26 receptions for 188 yards and five touchdowns in 1999 and 34 catches for 218 yards and another score last year. The 1999 season was his first at fullback after being switched from tailback by the Illini coaches. His varied experience in Champaign has left him confident that he can fill whatever role the Buccaneers need him to.

"Coming from Illinois, I had to learn to do all things," said Cook. "I believe that you have to do that to be a complete back."

Most likely, theBuccaneers are most interested in his blocking, which suits the 5-10, 225-pound Cook just fine.

"I learned how to take pride in my blocking at Illinois," he said. "I can always improve and I will work hard to do so. That's what I want to specialize in in the pros."

Cook is a Miami native, and he and his family were thrilled that he will begin his NFL career so close to home.

In three seasons at Illinois, Cook amassed 526 yards on 16 carries and added 64 receptions for 506 yards and six touchdowns.

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