Long-time Buccaneers fans may remember Doug Graber. Before he became a head coach at Rutgers for six years he was the Bucs defensive coordinator for three years under Ray Perkins in the late 80s.
Graber, whose specialty throughout his career is defensive backs, is still coaching up football players, primarily at the Team Exos Sports Performance training facility in Gulf Breeze, where he spent a little time this past February training two of the newest Buccaneers.
Graber worked with safety Justin Evans, the Bucs second-round pick, and linebacker Kendell Beckwith, the player the Bucs traded back into the third round to get late Friday night.
Anyone that knows Graber knows he’s one of those old-school, no-nonsense types who gives it to you straight, which is why Bucs fans should be intrigued by what he had to say about Evans and Beckwith.
Reached by Florida Football Insiders early Saturday, Graber had nothing but praise for both players and suggested strongly that Beckwith, who is coming off knee surgery could make an impact sooner than many think.
“His recovery has been amazing,’’ Graber said of the 6-foot-2, 243-pound LSU product whom the Bucs believe will eventually contend for their starting strong-side linebacker’s job. “What a great attitude he has.
“That kid always has a smile on his face. He’s a great looking football player and I’ve seen a lot of kids rehab, but this kid really got after it. I have no doubt he’ll be ready this fall.’’
The question most have regarding Evans is his ability to tackle. Even Evans himself admits that’s an area of weakness he needs to work on but Graber suggested it may be his only weakness.
“He’s one explosive, smart football player,’’ Graber said of the Texas A&M product. “He not only runs fast, but has a quick twitch change of direction about him.
“He’s a quiet kid, doesn’t say a lot, but he came to work every day. His burst and explosiveness remind me of Vernon Hargreaves a little bit. And the kid will stick his nose in there and light you up. I like what I saw of him.’’
So there you have it. An outsider’s view of two players the Bucs invested heavily in. If both comes as advertised, it’s hard to imagine the investments not paying off for the Bucs.