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Finish with a Flourish

Late on a very satisfying weekend, the Bucs concluded their draft with compensatory picks used on a pair of intriguing prospects: Virginia CB Marcus Hamilton and Alabama RB Kenneth Darby


Kenneth Darby was just the third running back in Alabama history to crack 3,000 career rushing yards

The last pick in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 10-man class of 2007 draftees may have the most impressive statistics.

Running back Kenneth Darby, just the third Alabama player ever to eclipse 3,000 career rushing yards, came to the Bucs with the 246th of the draft's 255 total picks. That was one of two compensatory selections Tampa Bay owned at the end of the seventh round. The first one, pick number 245, was used to snap up fluid Virginia cornerback Marcus Hamilton.

Hamilton and Darby were the final two of the 10 players drafted by the Buccaneers on Saturday and Sunday. While the team had plumbed a few lower-profile teams for much of its second day haul – North Carolina Central's Greg Peterson, Portland State's Adam Hayward, etc. – the end of the draft marked a return to top producers in big programs. Hamilton led Virginia in interceptions as a senior with five, which he returned for 101 yards. Darby had two 1,000-yard seasons for the Tide and also caught 70 passes during his career.

The Buccaneers certainly have had good fortune with Virginia cornerbacks, having nabbed Ronde Barber in the third round in 1997. Barber, who finished his Cavalier career with 15 interceptions, has developed into a perennial Pro Bowler for the Bucs and has a share of the franchise's all-time lead with 31 picks. Coincidentally, the 5-11, 188-pound Hamilton finished his Virginia tenure with 15 interceptions, including a national-best six in 2005.

A second-team ACC choice as a junior in 2005, Hamilton has quick feet, mobile hips and a smooth backpedal, making him an outstanding cover corner. In addition to his five interceptions in 2006, he racked up 39 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, four passes defensed and one fumble recovery.

Darby played in 47 games and started 31 over four seasons at Alabama, rushing for 3,324 yards and 11 touchdown on 702 carries. He averaged 4.7 yards per tote during his Tide career and peaked in 2005 with 1,242 yards and a 5.2-yard average. The only Alabama backs to finish with more career rushing yards were Shaun Alexander (3,565) and Bobby Humphrey (3,420).

The 5-10, 211-pound Darby was a first-team all-conference choice in 2005 and a second-team selection in 2006 and 2004. He ran for a career-best six 100-yard rushing games as a junior.

Darby was just the third offensive player drafted by the Buccaneers during the weekend, and the first one who will touch the ball. Tampa Bay also picked up Tennessee guard Arron Sears early in the second round and Fresno State tackle Chris Denman at the top of the seventh round.

A more detailed wrap-up of the Buccaneers' 2007 draft efforts will follow on

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