The Tampa Bay Buccaneers concluded an eventful three days of drafting early Saturday evening with two picks in the seventh round: Utah State running back Michael Smith (#212 overall) and Northwestern tight end Drake Dunsmore (#233). The pick used to draft Dunsmore was acquired in the Friday evening trade the Bucs used to move up from the third round to the second to draft Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David.
The 5-9, 206-pound Smith is a compact and powerful runner with elite speed, having been timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.32 seconds. He is coming off his most productive season at Utah State after transferring from Eastern Arizona Junior College in 2009, with 870 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 114 carries last fall. Smith's big-play ability is evident in his career 7.1 yards per carry at Utah State and his 15 touchdowns in just 184 totes.
Last year, Smith shared time in the backfield with lead runner Robert Turbin (1,538 rushing yards) as the Aggies racked up a remarkable 282 rushing yards per game. To cap the campaign, he was named USU's MVP in a hotly-contested Idaho Bowl loss to Ohio after scoring touchdowns on runs of 63 and 11 yards as part of a 12-carry, 157-yard outing.
Scouts say Smith has very good upper-body strength and is adept at gaining extra yards after initial contact. He has produced big numbers in a limited role and has always made the most of his opportunities. Smith is also a natural pass-catcher who could help the Buccaneers in a third-down-back capacity.
The addition of Smith further bolsters the Buccaneers' backfield after the first-round selection of Boise State running back Doug Martin on Thursday. With Martin and Smith joining incumbent starter LeGarrette Blount in Tampa Bay's running stable, it suddenly looks much more likely that the team will be able to deliver on new Head Coach Greg Schiano's promise to build his offense around a consistent and powerful rushing attack.
The 6-3, 235-pound Dunsmore played a position called "superback" in Northwestern's prolific offense in 2011 and scouts believe he could line up anywhere from tight end to fullback to H-back. Despite his varied role, Dunsmore was named the Big Ten Tight End of the Year after catching 45 passes for 522 yards and six touchdowns. He was also one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, which is given to the nation's top collegiate tight end.
Over his four seasons in Evanston (including a 2008 redshirt campaign), Dunsmore hauled in 143 passes for 1,567 yards and 14 touchdowns, finishing fourth on NU's career receiving TD list. He topped 40 receptions in each of his last three seasons and had at least 500 yards and five touchdowns in two of those three campaigns.
One of Dunsmore's top moments at Northwestern came on the Buccaneers' home turf at Raymond James Stadium. In the 2010 Outback Bowl, he turned a short screen pass into a 66-yard touchdown that was part of an incredible 625-yard output by the Wildcats offense in a 38-35 overtime loss.