West Virginia S Jahmile Addae had 115 tackles and four interceptions over the last two seasons
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't use any of their 10 picks in the 2006 draft on local star Andre Hall but, fortunately, neither did any other team. That left the University of South Florida running back on the board as the draft ended at 6:04 p.m., and the Bucs were on the phone with him by 6:05.
Hall, who had back-to-back 1,300-yard seasons at USF in 2004 and 2005, agreed to join the Bucs as an undrafted free agent before the podium microphone in New York was cold. The team did not announce his addition until he was officially signed on Monday, but Head Coach Jon Gruden hinted strongly during his post-draft press conference that the ultra-productive Bulls rusher would begin his NFL career in Tampa.
The Bucs also signed another former Bay area standout and a fellow Big East star on Monday: West Virginia safety Jahmile Addae. He and Hall are the first two players added by Tampa Bay in the annual league-wide rush to snap up what might be considered "eighth-rounders," prospects who were skipped in all seven rounds of the draft but still have intriguing talents. Every draft room in the league moves immediately from the final pick to a bank of telephones to begin contacting the most interesting players who slipped through the draft's cracks.
The Bucs think Hall could help them in a variety of ways. Though considered somewhat undersized by NFL standards at 5-8 and 204 pounds, he handled a feature-back load for the Bulls and averaged 6.5 yards per carry over his four-year college career. He also caught 44 passes over the past two seasons, returned kickoffs for the Bulls in 2004 and made a handful of tackles in kick coverage.
"The film we looked at certainly recognizes him as a top flight back and a guy who can run and catch," said Gruden. "He came here to our offseason workout that we had here about 10 days ago prior to the draft and performed well. He's a poised guy. He's thick, he's quick and he's got the ability to catch it."
USF was Hall's third stop after finishing a thrilling prep career in St. Petersburg. He started at Georgia Military College in 2002 and rushed for 1,604 yards and 19 touchdowns, then transferred to Garden City College in 2003 and put up 1,488 more yards. After returning home to the Bay area, Hall proved he could put up such numbers against Division I-A competition, racking up 1,357 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2004 and 1,374 yards and 13 TDs last fall. His two-year totals for the Bulls – 480 carries for 2,731 yards and 24 touchdowns – broke the school record in each category.
It may have been all of his travels over the last four years that lead to Hall's slipping through the draft. Gruden didn't see any concrete reason in terms of talent that he wasn't selected on Saturday or Sunday.
"You know, it's all in the eyes of the beholder, I guess," said Gruden. "He's probably not played as long as some of the other backs. He didn't play very long in high school. He was a junior college player. He had the huge year at USF. Maybe there are some people that question whether he can do it again."
Hall ranked ninth in the nation in rushing in 2005 and was the All-Big East First-Team running back. He also led the team in receiving with 26 receptions for 321 yards and two scores. Among his 270 totes were 40 that went for 10 or more yards and 14 that covered at least 20 yards.
Like several of their weekend draftees, including Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood, Addae (6-0, 214) was another player the Buccaneers got a close look at during this year's Senior Bowl. A solid tackler who is good at locating the ball, Addae was a very productive player at West Virginia. His career totals as a Mountaineer include 231 tackles and nine interceptions. Like Hall, Addae was a first-team all-conference pick in the Big East last fall.
As a starter the last two seasons, Addae turned in 53 tackles, four passes defensed and two interceptions in 2004 and 62 tackles, five passes defensed and two interceptions last year. He missed most of his 2003 season due to a shoulder injury but was a starter as a sophomore in 2002, racking up 99 tackles and four interceptions, both career highs.
The Buccaneers are likely to add several more undrafted free agents in the coming days. Their additions will be reported when they have officially signed with the team.