Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What a Catch!

Picking in the first round for the first time in three years, the Buccaneers added a dangerous weapon for their passing game in LSU WR Michael Clayton


WR Michael Clayton was a key performer in LSU's magical 2003 season

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense, ranked 24th in their Super Bowl season of 2002, improved to 10th in 2003. There's reason to believe that, in 2004, the Bucs will record a single-digit ranking for the first time in franchise history.

Suffice it to say, there has been a serious re-arming this spring: Charlie Garner, Joey Galloway and an entire offensive line, just to start.

The latest addition: LSU wide receiver Michael Clayton. On Saturday, the Buccaneers gleefully grabbed Clayton with the 15th overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft. It marked the Bucs' first pick in the first round since 2001, and only the second time the club has tabbed a wide receiver in the first round.

The Bucs believe Clayton was well worth a mid-first round selection. The 6-3, 204-pound receiver combines outstanding size and excellent body control with reliable hands and is considered a very polished route-runner. Playing for the co-National Champion Tigers, he was one of the nation's most productive receivers in 2003, leading LSU with 78 receptions for 1,079 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Clayton entered the draft following his junior season, after catching at least one pass in all 40 collegiate games in which he played. His career totals at LSU included 182 receptions for 2,582 yards and 21 touchdowns, trailing only Wendell Davis on the school's all-time catch chart.

Clayton is also considered an outstanding downfield blocker and a very tough, blue-collar type player. He played extensively on special teams for the Tigers, adding 36 kick-coverage tackles to his career stats.

Tampa Bay was involved in the first round for the first time since 2001, when they selected Florida T Kenyatta Walker with the 14th overall pick. In 2002 and 2003, the Bucs were without an opening-round choice as a result of the trade with Oakland that brought Head Coach Jon Gruden to Tampa. That deal also cost Tampa Bay its second-round picks in 2002 and 2004.

The only other receiver drafted in the first round by Tampa Bay was Florida's Reidel Anthony, who went 16th overall in 1997. This year, the Bucs were part of a lengthy run on receivers, perhaps the deepest position in the draft. Clayton was the fifth receiver taken among the first 15 players.

Buccaneers.com will follow with the team's reaction and more information on Clayton after the press conference at One Buccaneer Place to announce the pick.

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