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March 23, 2010 @ 10:54 am
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Highlights From Dominik's Q&A

Written by Charlie
Charlie Campbell


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Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik met with the media at the NFL's owner meetings in Orlando. Dominik answered questions on: Arron Sears, the Bucs lacking a No. 1 wide receiver, Josh Freeman, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, and head coach Raheem Morris. Highlights of Dominik's interview can be found here.
ORLANDO- Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik met with members of the Tampa Bay media at the 2010 NFL Owners meetings in Orlando, FLA. Dominik said it would be one of his last interviews before the 2010 NFL Draft.

The Buccaneers had a 3-13 record in Dominik's first year as general manager. Eight of Tampa Bay's losses came by more than one score, and the Bucs finished the season ranked 28th and 27th overall in offense and defense, respectively. The Bucs' 3-13 record was the team's worst since 1991. The 38-year-old Dominik became the second-youngest general manager in the NFL when he was promoted from director of pro personnel, a title he had held for eight seasons. He originally joined the team in 1995 as a pro personnel assistant. A Kansas graduate, Dominik worked with the likes of Rich McKay, Tim Ruskell, Ruston Webster and Bruce Allen in Tampa Bay's front office.

The Kansas graduate Dominik was charged with rebuilding the Bucs. Dominik fell short of signing free agent targets Albert Haynesworth (Washington) and Jonathan Vilma (New Orleans), but he made a splash by trading for tight end Kellen Winslow and using Tampa Bay's 2009 first-round draft pick to acquire quarterback Josh Freeman. However, free agent deals for QB Byron Leftwich, running back Derrick Ward, wide receiver Michael Clayton and kicker Mike Nugent didn't pan out, as well as the Bucs firing new coordinators Jeff Jagodzinski and Jim Bates.

After the season Dominik said the Buccaneers would be re-built through the NFL Draft. Dominik made it a priority to accumulate more draft picks, and did so in trades of the late Gaines Adams to the Chicago Bears for a second-round pick, and quarterback Luke McCown to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a seventh-round pick. On Monday Dominik revealed that the Buccaneers received another seventh-rounder as a compensatory pick, and have a total of 11 draft picks. The compensatory pick cannot be traded per league rules.

The Buccaneers have been largely inactive this offseason while other teams have signed players in free agency. Tampa Bay signed safety Sean Jones and linebacker Jon Alston. The Bucs also traded a 2011 sixth-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for wide receiver Reggie Brown.

Dominik said that after head coach Raheem Morris speaks with the media on Wednesday, the organization was unlikely to do interviews for a few weeks as they prepare for the draft. The week of the draft, Dominik said he would probably do a pre-draft interview with the media.

One of the longer parts of the conversation was Dominik defending the Buccaneers lack of spending in free agency. Those answers can be found here.

The other highlights of Dominik's interview session are below. The comments and questions appear in bold.

Dominik on current contract negotiations.
"We are still talking with a couple of our free agents. We are still talking to [Jimmy] Wilkerson and [Angelo] Crowell. Those are guys we are talking with about possibly returning. That's an ongoing process. The nice thing about the owners meetings is you get to sit with a lot of general managers and get a pulse of what is going on in terms of if they are doing anything with their roster. Thoughts about their draft philosophy if they'd like to move up or like to move back. What are they planning on doing. You take advantage of the resources that are here at once."

Does Tampa Bay have Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy with even grades on their draft board?
"They can't be even. They are just different types of players. You watch the tape they are not the same. They don't have the same type of traits, so in that way they are different players."

On how an outstanding defensive tackle can have a major impact on the Bucs Tampa 2 scheme.
"I think we've all seen it when we saw Warren Sapp do it. It changed the face of the defense. It changed Tampa. His first year under Sam [Wyche] was a frustrating year for Warren and we made the change and Monte Kiffin and coach [Tony] Dungy came in and put him in the Tampa 2 system and he exploded through it. The defensive tackle position is designed to be disruptive and get up field and cause havoc. If you do that on a consistent basis you are going to have that much more success. Fundamentally I think you have to protect and attack the quarterback. That is how we are built to protect the quarterback and attack it."

Dominik on why he won't be attending any pro-days for draft prospects.
"A lot is put on these players to work out at the combine. This year we had a very good turnout at the combine, so to spend the time it takes to fly to wherever, Norman, Oklahoma, what him work out, fly back to Tampa. I'd rather spend those eight-to-10 hours watching six more games from 2007."

Couldn't you watch the games on DVD while you fly to the workout?

"Or you can sit there at home and buzz through the tape all you want all the time. That is why you employ area scouts and directors who tell you did he hurt himself. Did anything look different to you? My point is they (worked out at the combine). Those two guys did (Suh and McCoy). Maybe it is not conventional. We want to be more successful with our drafting than we have been. So for me if that is watching six more games (with less travel) that is more important."

On if there will be more trades due to the new draft schedule over three days.
"That's what I believe. That's why I like being where we are at in the second and fourth round also. Let alone the first. It gives us the chance to say how much do we like the player we are about to select or do we like the offers that are proposed by others clubs."

On how can this draft class make you better in 2010 considering rookies don't always have an early impact?
"I think it can have immediate impact. I think it will have an immediate impact. Where we are selecting in these rounds, and the amount of choices that we have. The nice things of having 10 picks is it allows you the flexibility to do a lot of things in this draft. I'm taking one off because you can't trade that last one, those 10 picks are what I'm talking about in terms of having that flexibility. I expect them to, so does coach Morris, and ownership does too. This is a very critical draft for this football team."

On what is being done differently in the Bucs' approach to the draft.

"We started changing things. We've developed even from last year's draft, because I didn't to get the opportunity until January, but we morphed. We changed our scouting reports. We changed the way our coaches evaluate players. We changed the way we talk about players in draft meetings. We look at accessing a player's value within a round. How to stack the board to where you think you are getting the best value in the round. There's a lot of those little things that we do in terms of being very important for success. Last year at this time there was a lot of talk of Tampa and Freeman. You can look at some of the re-drafts and where people have him, but I think we all feel very excited about who he is and what he is for this organization, and what I think he'll become."

Considering the statement that the Bucs need to draft better and are preparing for the draft differently, and a lot of the scouts and director were retained from the previous regime. Did former general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Jon Gruden not listen to them?
"I think we do things differently, but at the end of the day coach Morris and I make the selections. We can determine what we want to take from them and what we don't want to take. We make the selections for this football team, so when you look at an area scout and you say well that scout has been with the Bucs for 10 years. We internally obviously grade our scouts and how they do. We go back and look at prior years' drafts and go through it and look at there areas. Why didn't these guys have high enough grades or why were you high on these guys. We go through it about every four years post (draft). We talk about the 2006 draft and your area and what happened in your area, or if it was with another team. We talk about what were thoughts with the other team. We constantly evaluate ourselves. I think a lot is made and there is concern that some people are still in the building, but I've been in the building for 15 years. I have a lot of confidence in what we are doing and what we are doing going forward."

On Morris' eye for talent in the draft.

"Coach [Morris] has a good eye for talent. At the end of the day he certainly has an eye for talent. Some people do and some people don't. There is a reason why we hire the coach in the first place, obviously for coaching. Then their ability to evaluate is very important as well. You have to take advantage of that, and we have a good head coach who has a good eye for talent. That is important. It creates very frank conversations because you know when he has watched the tape. He has thoughts and he'll let you know."

The team says it is building around second-year quarterback Josh Freeman, but the Bucs lack a legit number one receiver after not re-signing Antonio Bryant.
"There are different models that you can look at. I think we can see how this whole draft plays out. Certainly we'll see in the second wave and the final wave of free agency plays out before we get to training camp to make the assessment of who is he actually throwing to. You can see different teams. You can look at the Saints, and the Colts. They got Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark. You can have different weapons that are very important, and is how you spread the ball around. I think that (Bucs tight end) Kellen [Winslow] is a big part of that."

The team is putting a lot on Freeman, and not acquiring a lot of weapons for him to work with. How much can the team expect from Freeman considering that, and what can the team do to help him.
"I think you continue to add responsibilities on Josh and see how he handles that to determine how much you are going to continue to do that. We have a lot of expectations for Josh Freeman and what we want him to be long-term, as does Josh. That has why he has been in our building the last month, month and a half, on his own. ... You've got to give [the responsibility] to him in increments, and you've got to run the football. We know we've got to run the football. We will continue to stress that. I think you'll hear that same answer within the organization and from (offensive coordinator Greg) Olson and coach Morris."

On how he feels about guard Arron Sears progress in his return to the team after missing all 16 games in 2009 due to a personal issue.
"Okay. He's been around the building. Okay."

Is Sears written in pencil on the depth chart?

"There are a lot of guys in pencil, I'm afraid. You don't know how many players you're going to walk out of a draft with, so there are some guys that are going to be coming on to this football team. As we sit here today that is 11 possibilities for new jobs."

On if Sears has a chance to contribute to the football team?
"He wouldn't be with the organization if we didn't feel like he had the opportunity to come back and help this football team."


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