By Brent Stecker
Austin Seferian-Jenkins will be one of the cornerstones of Tampa Bay’s attempt to rebuild their air game, as the Buccaneers selected the Washington tight end in the second round (38th overall) of the NFL Draft on Friday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked dead last in the NFL in passing yards last season, and Seferian-Jenkins was the second step they made in the draft to improve that area of their game – he joins seventh overall pick Mike Evans, a wide receiver from Texas A&M, as a Bucs draft pick.
The Buccaneers appear to be putting a lot of stock in height in their rebuilding process. Seferian-Jenkins, Evans and veteran wideout Vincent Jackson are all 6-foot-5, and quarterback Mike Glennon is 6-6.
Tampa Bay’s roster already includes Tim Wright and Brandon Myers, both tight ends who had over 500 yards receiving in 2013, and the fact that the Buccaneers still drafted Seferian-Jenkins may signal how much faith they have in his potential.
“We didn’t go into the draft thinking we had to get a tight end,” Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht said. “But when a guy is sticking out like a sore thumb, you pounce.”
A former UW basketball player, Seferian-Jenkins is known for his combination of stellar athletic ability and size (262 pounds), which result in an impressive catch radius. Those attributes helped him earn the John Mackey Award in 2013, given annually to the best tight end in college football.
An exceptional red zone target, Seferian-Jenkins made eight touchdown catches as a junior in 2013. That was his career-high at Washington, though his best season was as a sophomore, when he caught 69 passes for 852 yards and seven scores.
“I’m going to bring explosiveness, play-making ability and good blocking,” Seferian-Jenkins said after being selected, according to the Tampa Tribune. “I’m going to bring an all-around tight end who is going to work hard and chase Super Bowls.”
Seferian-Jenkins left Montlake as the Huskies’ all-time leader in receptions (146), receiving yards (1,840) and touchdown receptions (21) by a tight end.
Seferian-Jenkins was the first of two Huskies drafted Friday. Running back Bishop Sankey was taken 54th overall by Tennessee.