Tampa Bay Buccaneers

<i>Our</i> Alex Smith

Seventy picks after one Alex Smith (Utah QB) was selected first overall, the Bucs got their Alex Smith, a big and fast tight end from Stanford, in the third round

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Stanford TE Alex Smith ranked second in the nation in 2004 among tight ends in both receptions and yards

Seventy picks after one Alex Smith (Utah QB) was selected first overall, the Bucs got their Alex Smith, a big and fast tight end from Stanford, in the third round

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't get the first Alex Smith in the 2005 NFL Draft, but they got the one they needed.

The Bucs selected Smith, a big and athletic tight end from Stanford, with the seventh pick of the third round, the 71st selection overall. If the name echoes, it's because the first pick of the 2005 draft was Utah quarterback Alex Smith.

Tampa Bay didn't have a shot at the first Smith, picking fifth in the first round, but they were thrilled that the other one dropped to them at the top of the third round. Most draft boards showed Smith as the second-ranked tight end available, and some projected him as a first-round pick.

It's easy to see why. At a chiseled 6-4 and 258 pounds, he has more than enough size to play the position in the NFL. Combine that with the speed necessary to get down the seam, and you have a potential difference maker at tight end, a commodity that has become much-coveted in the NFL.

"I plan on being an all-around tight end, not just a pass-catching tight end," said Smith. "I know that's something Coach [Jon] Gruden really wants in his offense, to be able to use his tight end and to really exploit that down the field in his version of the West Coast offense. Hopefully, I'll get to take advantage of that."

At Stanford, Smith played in 44 games and was a three-year starter. He racked up 107 receptions for 1,291 yards and eight touchdowns, including 52-706-3 as a senior. His reception and yardage totals ranked second in the nation among tight ends. Smith earned first-team all-conference recognition as a senior and was also a consensus second-team All-American.

Smith catches the ball with his hands and can come down with it in the middle of a crowd. Like the Bucs' other two picks on Saturday – running back Carnell Williams and linebacker Barrett Ruud – he is also a high-effort player on every down.

"I think I'm a very athletic tight end that likes to use my size and speed to my advantage," said Smith. "My strong suit is getting open, getting separation and stretching the field."

Smith has something else in common with Ruud, the Bucs' second-round pick out of Nebraska. Like Ruud, Smith's father played in the NFL. Edwin Smith was a member of the Denver Broncos from 1973-76.

Smith fills a position of need for the Buccaneers, who are in the process of overhauling their tight end corps. The team's first major signing of the offseason was that of former Jets tight end Anthony Becht, a five-year starter in New York. Even with that addition, the Bucs needed to fortify the position, given the departures of Ken Dilger and Rickey Dudley via free agency.

The Buccaneers have one more pick on Sunday, the 91st overall selection, gained from San Diego in the Keenan McCardell trade. They will make eight selections in Rounds 4-7, to be conducted Sunday.

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