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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Get Defensive in Third Round

After a long wait following their first-round selection of WR Michael Clayton, the Bucs turned to defense in the third round, selecting LB Marquis Cooper with the 79th overall pick


LB Marquise Cooper is fast and productive, a perfect fit for the Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their 2004 third-round draft pick to bolster their linebacking corps on Saturday, selecting Washington linebacker Marquis Cooper.

Cooper was the second pick of the day for the Buccaneers, who were without a second-round pick. In the first round, Tampa Bay selected WR Michael Clayton. After that offense-minded pick in the early going, the Bucs turned their attention to defense, and specifically a position that was thin when the 2004 offseason began.

A very speedy linebacker who measures in at 6-3 and 213 pounds, Cooper fits the Bucs' defensive mold. He started at strongside linebacker the past two seasons, leading the Huskies in tackles in both 2002 and 2003. During his four-year collegiate career, Cooper played in 46 games with 23 starts and recorded 230 tackles, seven sacks, 21.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and seven passes defensed. He also excelled on special teams for Washington.

Cooper adds depth to a group of linebackers that at one point had been slimmed to the three returning starters, Derrick Brooks, Shelton Quarles and Ryan Nece. Earlier in the offseason, the Bucs also signed veteran linebackers Keith Burns and Jeff Gooch, and a third, Edward Thomas, was added just before the draft. All three of those players are considered outstanding special teams players.

Last year, Cooper started 12 games for the Huskies and finished with 89 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble. will add further information and commentary on Cooper after the team's press conference to announce the third-round pick.

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