Are Buccaneers keeping eye on Hokies star?

This fleet Virginia Tech wide receiver is projected as a second- or third-round pick and could be a top slot receiver in this draft. But are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers interested?'s Ed Thompson explores that and more with Hokies WR Eddie Royal, a recent selection in's Bucs Mock Draft.

Ed Thompson:  Talk about your 4.39-second performance in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, fifth-best out of all receivers. Was that what you were expecting to run?

Eddie Royal:  I knew I wanted to hit the 4.3s, I'm happy with it. But at the same time I'm not satisfied with the time.  I feel like I could have run faster, but everything happens for a reason and I'm in those 4.3s.  It's a pretty solid time, I feel like I could have run faster, but like I said everything happens for a reason.

Thompson:  You're pretty hard on yourself at times aren't you?

Royal:  Yeah, but I feel like to be the best you have to be hard on yourself.  You always have to be pushing yourself to get better.

Thompson:  Your 24 reps on the bench press was best amongst all receivers. Is that a normal amount you're able to push or were you especially inspired that day?

Royal:  You get a little extra with all the guys encouraging you and the coaches there and all eyes on you.  That's when you want to perform your best and I was able to do that with the encouragement from the guys and the competitive fire in me.  It brought out the best in me.  I've been working really hard on it, but I kind of surprised myself because I haven't repped-out in a really long time. 

Thompson:  You finished sixth in the vertical jump at 36 inches even. Not being the prototypical wideout from a height perspective at 5 foot 10 instead of around 6-feet tall, I would think that you doing so well in the vertical had to dispel any concern some scouts may have had since you showed you can get up high to more than compensate for those two inches?

Royal:  It was important to me to do well in the vertical.  It shows you can get those jump balls that those taller guys can get up there and shows you can compete at the highest point and I think that's what the coaches want from anybody.  They want a guy who can go up there and get the ball, so it was very important for me to do well in the vertical jump.

Eddie Royal shows off his speed.
AP Photo/Steve Helber

Thompson:  How much of a role is your skill as a return specialist playing in your favor as you're talking to teams?

Royal:  They like the fact that I can return kicks.  It adds value to me and it's something else I can do.  Instead of having two or three guys on the roster for a slot receiver, punt returner, and kick returner, they can use me for all three.  That's definitely helping me out a lot.  Devin Hester is certainly helping me out a lot.  He's showing how important a dangerous return man can be.

Thompson:  Talk about your interview at the Combine with Dallas, because you mentioned to me in the media room that you were impressed by them during the interview.

Royal:  It's the Cowboys.  Whenever you hear the Dallas Cowboys name, you think about the championship teams from all the way back to Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin. They've had great teams and it's a great organization.  Jerry Jones has done a great job.  He's signed some of the great coaches out there, and I think Jason Garrett is a heck of an offensive coordinator.  It'd be an honor to play under him and wear those colors and the star on your helmet. 

Thompson:  Were you a Cowboys fan growing up?

Royal:  I was actually a Redskins fan growing up. But the Cowboys make it very hard for you to root against them.  Whenever they were playing anyone, other than the Redskins, I was a Cowboys fan.

Thompson:  Who were some of your heroes from the Redskins?

Royal:  I liked watching Art Monk, Gary Clark, Ricky Sanders, and Mark Rypien — all of those guys back then.  I would think that I'd be too young to even remember, but I remember those guys.  I just remember being a big fan and I remember seeing Earnest Byner out there and I remember hearing about John Riggins. So the Redskins from way back in the day are the ones I remember and I really liked their style of play.

Thompson:  Who are the top two or three receivers in the NFL right now that you'd love to work with?

Royal:  I like Marvin Harrison.  He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he always finds a way to get open.  He's always getting separation, he's good with his underneath routes, and he's a technician.  Those are the types of guys you want to learn from.  Wes Welker also, he's a great slot receiver. He's probably the best in the game right now at finding holes in the zones and beating man coverage.  Just his moves at the line of scrimmage, I think he does a great job.  Marvin Harrison works on the outside and Wes Welker works in the slot, so getting to work with either one of them would be a great honor.

Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at You can contact him by email through this link.

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