The player: Arron Sears, OT, University of Tennessee
The measurables: 6-foot-3, 319 pounds, 5.09 40-yard, 2.95 20-yard, 1.74 10-yard, 30-1/2-inch vertical, 8-foot-7 broad jump, 4.50 shuttle, 7.63 cone drill.
The resume: A three-year starter at Tennessee, Sears was a two-time all-Southeastern Conference first-team selection, and 2006 winner of the Jacobs Blocking Award, given to the best blocker in the SEC. He also earned first-team all-America honors last season from Walter Camp and the AFCA, as well as second-team honors by the Associated Press. Gave up one quarterback sack in 797 total plays last year and earned four perfect blocking grades from the Vols coaching staff last season.
Aaron Sears is a player that will make any coach feel comfortable.
Jon Gruden felt that comfort after Tampa Bay drafted Sears No. 35 overall (second round) in the NFL Draft. That's why Gruden made it clear on draft day that Sears would be a leading contender to start at left guard, and that Dan Buenning — the Bucs' leading left guard the last two seasons — would be moving to center.
The comfort is in knowing that Sears is a product of a quality collegiate program (Tennessee) and that his head coach, Philip Fulmer, has a reputation for producing quality linemen.
But there may be something special about Sears.
He's intelligent, he's a good drive blocker, he's good at the second level and he's instinctive," Gruden said. "He's without a doubt the leader of the Tennessee program at this point."
And if he's in the starting lineup, it will be the third year in a row the Bucs have given a rookie guard significant playing time (Buenning in 2005, Davin Joseph in 2006).
Gruden considers himself lucky to get Sears. The guard wrestled with whether to leave the Vols as a junior for the NFL. He chose to stay, and in doing so became the anchor for a young offensive line in need of a leader.
"I thought about it really seriously because the agents will try to persuade you seriously to come out," Sears told Scout.com's Ed Thompson in an audio interview in March. "But to be able to go back to Tennessee and help out the guys that you came in with was big. Being there for coach Fulmer (was important), because he's been there for the last four years."
While the Bucs have pegged Sears as a guard, he can play tackle, too. In fact last year against Alabama Sears played three different positions in the same game, thanks to injuries on the Tennessee line.
The Russellville, Ala., said he enjoyed that game — which was in Alabama — thoroughly, and his entire experience in the SEC, he believes, aided his progress to the NFL.
"I'm very biased about the conference," Sears said. "The SEC is the strongest because we go against the best week in and week out, and that should translate to the NFL."
Like several recent Tampa Bay draft picks, he played in the Senior Bowl the same year the Bucs coached there, though he was coached by San Francisco's South Team staff. But the Bucs got plenty of looks at Sears, who improved his draft stock with a solid week of practices and overcame a minor knee injury to be ready for the scouting combine.
He's eager for his shot at the NFL, starting with this weekend's rookie mini-camp.
"As soon as I picked up the phone, coach Gruden had his assistant on the phone and she gave him the phone and he said, ‘I told you that you were going to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. How do you feel?'" Sears said. "My family and I had just been sitting around all day and having a nice cookout, and I got the call and I was pretty excited."
Want to hear Arron's audio interview at the scouting combine? Here's the link — http://nflexperts.scout.com/2/629493.html
Want to read more about Arron? BucsBlitz.com recommends these links on the Scout.com network: