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2016 NFL draft results: Why the Buccaneers made their day three picks

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted four players on the third day of the 2016 NFL draft: defensive back Ryan Smith out of North Carolina Central, tackle Caleb Benenoch out of UCLA, linebacker Devante Bond out of Oklahoma and fullback Dan Vitale out of Northwestern.

So why did the Bucs make the picks they did? Jason Licht clarified after the draft, so let's go through them one by one.

DB Ryan Smith, North Carolina Central

The Buccaneers loved this guy, and Licht said that they expect him to play safety initially. Mostly, they drafted him for his speed: they apparently timed him in the 4.3s in the 40-yard dash, though he ran it in 4.49 seconds at the scouting combine. The Bucs' cornerback room is pretty full, so Smith makes the most sense at safety, where the team needs some young blood behind a slew of solid but unspectacular veterans.

Expect Smith to be primarily a special teams player as a rookie, possibly as a returner, while he may get some playing time on defense in some sub packages. If everything goes well, he'll be a starting free safety in a couple of years.

G/T Caleb Benenoch, UCLA

Jason Licht said the team hasn't yet decided whether Benenoch will play guard or tackle, but he can play both. He's big guy at 6'5", 302 lbs., and he has some athleticism, running a 4.98-second 40-yard dash. He's best as a run blocker and needs some development in pass protection, which fits the Bucs' offensive line profile. He should be a backup early on, and could eventually take over at right tackle -- though Kevin Pamphile is first in line for that honor.

LB Devante Bond, Oklahoma

Licht didn't say much on Bond except that linebacker depth was thin, but he's a new kind of linebacker for the Bucs: stockier and slower than the group they have. Which is probably a little closer to the kind of linebacker Mike Smith prefers. Bond should be a special teams player early on, and perhaps the team's primary strongside linebacker in the long run. The team has Daryl Smith for that role right now, but he probably only has a couple of years left in his NFL career. Bond also helps shore up linebacker depth, as the Bucs are stuck with undrafted free agents behind their three starters.

FB Dan Vitale, Northwestern

A fullback! The Bucs have been looking for a replacement for Jorvorskie Lane, so this pick makes some sense on its face. But Vitale isn't just a fullback: he played a "superback" role in college, which mostly means he was a part-time slot receiver. He finished his career with 1,427 receiving yards over four seasons, so he definitely adds some versatility: he'll be more than just a blocker.