The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced Monday that they have signed rookie cornerback Myron Lewis to a four-year deal. A third-round pick in the 2010 draft and the 67th player chosen overall, Lewis is the second member of his draft class to reach agreement with the team.
After signing his deal, Lewis counted against the NFL's 80-man offseason roster limit. To make room on the roster, the Buccaneers released defensive end Maurice Evans.
The Buccaneers are ahead of schedule in the task of getting their nine-man draft class under contract in time for this year's training camp. Only a small fraction of the 255 players drafted in April across the NFL have reached agreement with their teams; generally, the majority of draftees get their deals done closer to the beginning of training camp. This year, most teams will report to camp late in the month of July.
Tampa Bay previously signed fourth-round wide receiver Mike Williams to his initial deal on Friday, June 4. Like Williams, Lewis wanted to get his contract work behind him quickly so that he could keep his focus on football. The Buccaneers are eager to do the same with this year's draft class because they expect their rookies to be an integral part of what they are able to accomplish this fall.
Lewis brings outstanding athleticism and size to his position and should be thick in the competition to win the nickel back job behind starters Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib. At 6-2 and 203 pounds, he already ranks as one of the Bucs' most physically imposing corners, and he is a hard-hitting and instinctive player around the line of scrimmage. Those traits serve a cornerback well in Tampa Bay's defensive scheme, particularly when elements of the Cover Two are in play. The former Vanderbilt University star has also shown a nose for the football in the college ranks, picking off nine passes over his final two seasons combined.
Lewis played four seasons at Vandy and was a starter for the final three, appearing in a total of 46 games with 36 starts. He finished with 170 career tackles to go with 10 interceptions, 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. His top statistical season was his 2008 junior campaign, in which he impressively paired five interceptions with five sacks and also rang up a career-best 76 tackles.
Last season, Lewis was a second-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press after racking up 41 tackles, four interceptions and eight passes defensed. He was also an SEC Academic Honor Roll selection in 2008 and he graduated early with a degree in human and organizational development. Lewis hails from Pompano Beach, Florida, where he was a two-time team MVP for the Pompano High team.
Evans was briefly on the Buccaneers' active roster at the beginning of the 2009 season after being claimed off waivers from the New York Giants. He was released following the season opener but later signed to the practice squad. He finished the season on Tampa Bay's practice squad injured reserve list and then was re-signed for 2010 in January.