Bucs To Meet With RB Peterson

March 30 - Buccaneer Magazine has learned that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a pre-draft meeting with Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson this week. Peterson is expected to be a second- or third-round draft pick. Buccaneer Magazine has also learned of three other draft prospects who will meet with the Buccaneers.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have one eye on free agency, but preparations for the NFL Draft are fully underway with the team's personnel honchos in draft meetings nearly every day. The Bucs are also wrapping up their scouting by attending draft prospects' "pro day" workouts at college campuses and meeting with some players on an individual basis at One Buccaneer Place.

Buccaneer Magazine has learned that the Bucs will meet with Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson this week. He is currently working out at the IMG Sports Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Peterson (5-foot-10, 210) was an extremely productive fullback/feature back in Georgia Southern's unconventional "Flexbone" offense, which is similar to the Veer or Wishbone schemes.

Peterson, who is one of college football's most accomplished running backs, rushed for an astounding 9,161 yards (including playoff games) on 1,378 carries and scored an amazing 114 touchdowns at the Division I-AA level. His regular season totals during his four years as a starter include rushing for 6,559 yards and scoring 84 career touchdowns as he dominated opponents.

Peterson, who is the younger brother of former Florida Gators and current Indianapolis Colts linebacker Mike Peterson, has rushed for at least 100 yards in 54 of 57 college games (40 of 42 in the regular season) while picking up 200 yards or more in 12 contests (eight in the regular season).

Tampa Bay is expected to draft a running back to round out a backfield that includes newly signed starter Michael Pittman, tailbacks Byron Hanspard and Aaron Stecker, fullback Jameel Cook, and possibly Mike Alstott if he restructures his contract and has a viable role in Jon Gruden's offense.

Most draft experts and scouts project Peterson to be selected in the second or third round. The fact that the Bucs are interested in Peterson could mean that they are possibly discussing a trade that could net Tampa Bay a second-round pick. The Bucs gave up their first- and second-round picks in this year's draft to Oakland to acquire Gruden.

A rumor of a major trade sending Pro Bowl DT Warren Sapp to the Philadelphia Eagles for their first-round pick and both of their second-round picks was reported over the weekend on Football.com.

The Bucs also have scheduled meetings with Marshall tight end Gregg Kellett, Miami cornerback Markese Fitzgerald and Missouri running back Zain Gilmore, a former star at Robinson High School in Tampa. Kellett and Fitzgerald won't likely be picked before the sixth round, and could be priority free agents if they are not drafted. Gilmore is not expected to be drafted and could be a priority free agent for Tampa Bay after the draft.

The reason why the Bucs entertain players who will not likely be drafted is to encourage the players to sign with them as an undrafted free agent in the hours following the draft instead of opting for another team.

Because several undrafted free agents have actually made Tampa Bay's 53-man roster in the past (guard Jorge Diaz, receiver Karl Williams, running back Rabih Abdullah, etc.), and these players are vital to fill out a training camp roster, several teams, including the Bucs, spend a lot of time recruiting these players prior to the draft.

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