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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs End with Arizona End

Tampa Bay’s ninth and final draft pick of 2001 is spent on Arizona defensive end Joe Tafoya


Arizona DE Joe Tafoya was the last of nine draft picks made by the Buccaneers this weekend

The Buccaneers hedged their bets on late-round pass-rush prospects at pick number 234 by selecting Arizona DE Joe Tafoya.

The Bucs had previously used a sixth-round pick on Mississippi State end Ellis Wyms. While defensive line ranks as one of the team's most obvious strengths, Tampa Bay has had a history of looking for late-round gold at the position. The Bucs have used a seventh-round pick on a defensive lineman in four of the last seven seasons.

Tafoya was an all-conference first-team pick in the PAC-10 last season, playing strongside end for the Wildcats. He started all 11 games and finished with 54 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and four passes defensed.

Tafoya showed strong pass-rush skills throughout his college career, racking up 24.5 sacks over four seasons. His finest season came as a junior in 1999 when he amassed 10 sacks.

As a seventh-rounder, Tafoya had an extended wait to hear his name.

"It was a long, stressful day, but now I'm just happy to be part of the team," he said. "I'm happy to be going to the place I'm going to. I just want to contribute. I know I have a lot to learn, but I'm just real excited right now."

In addition to the two defensive ends, Tampa Bay's draft netted two offensive linemen, T Kenyatta Walker (first round) and G Russ Hochstein (fifth), three defensive backs, CB Dwight Smith (third), S John Howell (fourth) and S Than Merrill (seventh), one fullback, Jameel Cook (sixth), one tight end, Dauntae` Finger (seventh).

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