The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had two picks in the seventh round to conclude their 2009 draft, and used one on each side of the ball.
With the eighth pick in the final stanza, number 217 overall, the Buccaneers selected Western Michigan cornerback E.J. Biggers. Fast and promising, Biggers was part of an outstanding Broncos secondary in 2008.
With the 24th pick of the round, number 233 overall, Tampa Bay nabbed ultra-productive Oregon State wide receiver Sammie Stroughter. Stroughter tallied 144 catches over his last two seasons for the Bears.
The 6-0, 180-pound Biggers is an intriguing prospect given his height and blazing speed. Though he wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, Biggers ran a 4.35 40-yard dash during the Western Michigan Pro Day this spring. He was a playmaker in the Broncos' very talented secondary (S Louis Delmas was drafted in the second round), notching 62 tackles along, five tackles for loss, two interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and 10 passes defensed.
The Buccaneers have made a common practice of picking up late-round cornerbacks in recent years. Since 2002, the team has drafted six corners in the sixth and seventh rounds: Tim Wansley (2002), Torrie Cox (2003), Lenny Williams (2004), Justin Phinisee (2006), Marcus Hamilton (2007) and now Biggers. Cox is still with the team and Wansley was briefly a starter during two seasons on the roster. Hamilton played for the Buccaneers during the 2008 regular season and is currently on the Chicago Bears' roster.
Tampa Bay hasn't used a seventh-round pick on a receiver since 2005, when they used two such selections to pick up Utah's Paris Warren and Louisville's J.R. Russell. Both players appeared on the team's active roster at some point and Warren remains with the team, working to win a roster spot in 2009.
Stroughter will fight the same battle, and his career at Oregon State suggests he will fight hard. The 5-9, 189-pound receiver was a tough, physical player for the Beavers, able to work through press coverage at the line and gain separation downfield. Last year, he earned first-team All-Pac 10 honors after catching 70 passes for 1,040 yards and seven touchdowns.
Stroughter missed the 2007 season in part due to a lacerated kidney. Prior to that, he had exploded onto the scene as a junior, catching 74 passes for 1,293 yards. He had been primarily a return specialist for OSU prior to 2007.
The Buccaneers started the day with three seventh-round picks but surrendered one of them to Dallas earlier in the afternoon in order to trade up several spots in the fifth round and take USC DE Kyle Moore. On Saturday, the team gave up its sixth-round pick in a trade to move up two spots in the first round and take Kansas State QB Josh Freeman. The result was a six-man group that equals the team's smallest draft class since 2003.