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The next step Bucs' Mike Evans knows he needs to take

TAMPA — Even at 23, Bucs WR Mike Evans understands he needs to take on more of a leadership role with veteran Vincent Jackson not back for 2017.

"I'm going to be a more vocal leader," said Evans, entering his fourth season in the league. "I always try to lead by example, but I'll be more vocal now, since V-Jax is gone."

The Bucs brought in free agent DeSean Jackson, 30, who can take over the veteran presence that Vincent Jackson had, but the Bucs will also be without Louis Murphy and Cecil Shorts, both 29, and Russell Shepard, 26, who were part of last year's group.

Much like Jameis Winston, who has quickly stepped up as a leader at 23, Evans said he's comfortable trying to command authority in a leadership role despite his relative youth.

"That's how it was for me in college as well — guys were seniors and I was a redshirt freshman and I had to be a leader," Evans said. "I was a starter and I was one of the best players on the team, so I think the best players, no matter their age, should be comfortable being a leader."

Still really young

Bucs LB Kwon Alexander is entering his third season, but he won't turn 23 until August. He's four months younger than Alabama's Reuben Foster, perhaps the top linebacker in this year's draft.

Alexander remains close with his former LSU teammates, who could be a big part of Thursday's first round.

"All of them — back at LSU, we're all close. We always want to see somebody succeed," Alexander said Monday as the second week of offseason conditioning began for the Bucs. "We've got a couple of guys being top-flight going in the first round, like (S) Jamal Adams, (RB) Leonard Fournette and (CB) Tre White. I can't wait to see where those guys go. It's going to be a fun draft to watch."

Strong endorsement

WR Mike Evans had high praise for Bucs WR Derel Walker, who was signed out of the CFL in January and played with him at Texas A&M.

"He's one of my best friends, a groomsman in my wedding," Evans said. "I love him to death. He can go up and get the ball. He's sneaky athletic. He's sneaky fast. His 40 time doesn't show how fast he is. He plays fast, strong hands and he's one of the hardest workers I've ever been around."

Quote of the day

"I think best-case scenario, I was thinking like fourth round. I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call."

OL Ali Marpet, whom the Bucs took in the second round in 2015, trading up five spots to grab him at No. 61.

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http://www.tampabay.com/sports/football/bucs/the-next-step-bucs-mike-evans-knows-he-needs-to-take/2321460