The Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent more than a year amassing a dozen picks in the 2010 NFL Draft, and they were determined to utilize them in the most impactful way possible. That didn't necessarily mean drafting 12 players.
Early in the second round on Friday night, the Buccaneers packaged a fifth-round pick (#153 overall) with their own selection at #42 in the second round to move up three spots and secure Illinois WR Arrelious Benn. Tampa Bay management moved aggressively to acquire a weapon for young QB Josh Freeman after spending its first two picks of the draft on defenders.
The Buccaneers entered the second round with the 35th and 42nd overall selections, the second coming from Chicago in exchange for DE Gaines Adams last fall. Concerned that Benn might not last three more picks and determined to get their man, the Bucs gave up one of their eight third-day selections to get their man.
The 6-2, 220-pound Benn instantly adds another dimension to the Bucs' passing game. Despite his outstanding size, Benn brings top-notch speed to the game. He is particularly adept at catching the ball underneath and in traffic and tacking on extra yards. He has very good hands and can make the leaping catch over defenders on high passes.
In three seasons with the Illini, Benn played in 37 games and started 35, recording 159 receptions for 2,221 yards and seven touchdowns. He also returned 42 kickoffs for 996 yards and one score, averaging 23.4 yards per runback.
After setting career highs with 67 catches for 1,055 yards and three touchdowns in 2008, Benn was part of a more run-oriented attack in Champaign last fall. He still led the Illini with 38 catches for 490 yards and two scores.
At 39th overall, Benn is the highest-drafted receiver for the Buccaneers since 2004, when the team spent its first-round pick, number 15 overall, on LSU's Michael Clayton. Benn joins Clayton on the Bucs' receiving depth chart, which lost Antonio Bryant to free agency earlier this year but also saw the emergence of rookie Sammie Stroughter last fall. With tight end Kellen Winslow leading the team in receptions by a healthy margin in 2009, it's clear that receiver was a position at which the Buccaneers would welcome additional assets.
The Buccaneers have one more pick to execute on the second day of the draft, which covers Rounds Two and Three. Tampa Bay is scheduled to pick third in the third round, number 67 overall.