Bucs draft USC RB Ronald Jones II, 2 CBs and guard on Day 2
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned to offense with their first of three picks in the second round, taking USC running back Ronald Jones II.
Tampa Bay then returned to an emphasis on defense with its final two second-round picks, taking cornerbacks M.J. Stewart from North Carolina and Auburn’s Carlton Davis.
The Buccaneers closed out Friday night by picking Humboldt State guard Alex Cappa in the third round.
Tampa Bay selected Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea 12th overall during Thursday’s first round.
“We’re getting five guys that can help us either in the immediate future or some point down the road,” Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht said.
Finding a running back capable of easing the burden on quarterback Jameis Winston to carry the offense was a priority addressed by Jones’ selection with the 38th overall pick.
“I can score from anywhere on the field,” Jones said. “I’ve always been a home-run threat.”
Jones rushed for 1,550 yards and 19 touchdown for USC last season. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry and scored 39 rushing TDs during his three years with the Trojans.
The Bucs haven’t made the playoffs since 2007 and haven’t won a postseason game since the franchise’s 2002 run to a Super Bowl title.
Jones said when he visited with the Bucs, “it felt like how I did when I went to USC, it just felt like home.”
Playing in the NFL and reaching the Super Bowl have long been Jones’ goals.
“I’ve got one down, got to get the other for my dad, for myself and for the organization,” Jones said.
Jones’ father died when he was a sophomore in high school.
“He definitely told me that everything that glitters isn’t gold,” Jones said. “Never forget who I am, stay true to yourself. Those words from my father I never forget, they’re always echoing in my mind.”
With Brent Grimes turning 35 this summer and Vernon Hargreaves III, a first-round pick two years ago, losing his starting job last season, the Buccaneers were looking to strengthen the secondary.
Stewart has been honorable mention All-ACC players each of the past two seasons.
“I don’t want to be last, I don’t want to be second, I want to be first in everything,” Stewart, taken 53rd, said. “I want to win. I want to compete every day. I think that’s probably my best attribute, my competitive nature.”
Tampa Bay made a trade with New England, moving down from 56th to 63rd, and added a fourth-round selection.
“I was actually kind of in a negative state where I understood my value was slipping but when I got that call it changed everything,” said Davis, picked 63rd overall. “I understood that I was getting an opportunity, I understood that this organization took a chance on a player. I have so much more to offer than what I’ve shown. I know that for a fact and I willing to prove that.”
Davis had 138 tackles and three interceptions in 38 career games.
Tampa Bay added a third-round pick, No. 94 from Minnesota, to pick Cappa.
“We thought we were going to get three good football players and we got four,” Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said. “We’re happy as we stand here tonight.”
The Buccaneers sent fourth-and-sixth round picks to the Vikings.