Michael Smith and Drake Dunsmore performed their first few days of work as professional football players this past weekend at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' rookie mini-camp. On Monday, Smith and Dunsmore also finalized their first NFL contracts.
The Buccaneers, wasting no time in the process of getting their 2012 draftees signed, announced on Monday that they had reached four-year deals with Smith and Dunsmore, their two seventh-round selections. Smith, a running back out of Utah State, was selected with the 212th overall pick; Dunsmore, a tight end from Northwestern, came next at number 233 overall.
Drafted players may participate in team activities before signing their first deals, as Smith and Dunsmore did over the weekend, but they may not report to training camp without a contract in place. The Buccaneers, who have not had an extended rookie holdout since the mid-90s, now have five more 2012 draft picks to sign before the beginning of camp in late July. It is very common for teams to work backwards through their draft picks when finalizing deals, beginning with those selected in the lower rounds.
The Buccaneers hope both of their seventh-round picks can add speed and playmaking ability to their offense in 2012. The 5-9, 206-pound Smith ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at Utah State's Pro Day in May and finished his collegiate career with a remarkable average of 7.1 yards per rush. Dunsmore, the reigning Big Ten Tight End of the Year, is coming off three consecutive seasons of 40 or more catches and he played a wide variety of roles in Northwestern's offense.
Smith rushed for 870 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 114 carries last fall. He shared time in 2011 with starting tailback Robert Turbin (1,538 rushing yards), the Seattle Seahawks' 2012 fourth-round pick, as the Aggies racked up a remarkable 282 rushing yards per game. To cap his senior campaign, Smith was named USU's MVP in a hotly-contested Idaho Bowl loss to Ohio after scoring touchdowns on runs of 63 and 11 yards as part of a 12-carry, 157-yard outing.
The 6-3, 235-pound Dunsmore played a position called "superback" in Northwestern's prolific offense in 2011 and scouts believe he could line up anywhere from tight end to fullback to H-back. In 2011, he caught 45 passes for 522 yards and six touchdowns. He was also one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, which is given to the nation's top collegiate tight end.
Over his four seasons in Evanston (including a 2008 redshirt campaign), Dunsmore hauled in 143 passes for 1,567 yards and 14 touchdowns, finishing fourth on NU's career receiving TD list.