Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik met with the media on Thursday at One Buc Place. Dominik answered questions for a little over 20 minutes on the 2010 NFL Draft. The draft begins on Thursday night April 22. Here is the complete transcript of Dominik's question and answer session. The question or comment from the media appears in bold and the answer from Dominik follows. Give us an update on the restricted free agents and them signing their tenders or deciding not to sign their tenders.
"I don't know if anybody is not going to sign their tender. At some point I think they all end up signing."
What if they don't sign today?
"They just continue to hold onto their tender until we make a determination later on in the summer. As I see it, there are a lot of clubs that have restricted free agents out there that haven't signed their tender as well. Guys are starting to slowly sign them, and I suspect they will continue to sign them as we go forward."
Are there any that have signed?
"I think [Mark] Bradley signed."
Are there any that you haven't announced?
"No I don't think anybody is signed that wasn't announced, but there is no need to from an RFA's perspective, there is no real benefit to signing the tender until the restricted free agency period ended. I'm not surprised by the situation or alarmed by it. You guys want to talk about the draft?"But they can work out here. Barrett Ruud is here.
"Absolutely they sign a sheet so they are protected and covered. Absolutely."How deep is this draft?
"I think it is a very talent laden draft. Part of the reason last year after the draft, when we sit around and talk to our scouts we actually do that in February, we've already talked about the 2011 draft in some capacity. We identified not the only the senior class that we thought was going to be a very talented class, but knowing the possibility of the uncertainty with the [collective bargaining agreement] we thought that a lot of underclassmen would declare for this draft and they did. That is the genesis of why we decided to acquire as many picks as we possibly could. That is why today we got 11 going into the week of the draft."
What is Bill Rees position and his capacity?
"Bill Rees is a consultant for our football team. I think a lot of teams have consultants. I know that when Bruce Allen was here, he had Chet Franklin as a consultant, but Chet would come in at certain times of the year and evaluate and help Bruce. He trusted him a long time experienced member of the National Football League. Bill Rees is that way for me. I got to know Bill back in Kansas City, when I started out with the Kansas City Chiefs. I kept in contact with them through the years. Obviously he has been a long-term scout and a long-term recruiter in college as well. At the end of the season I approached ownership about how I'd like an eye for this football team outside of the building that's not affected by living in the Tampa area so he doesn't read the locals, or doesn't get influenced by anything that's happening within the organization. I wanted a true opinion of a 3-13 football team. What is the talent level of that football team? Because I knew how important that was for us to not be judging our football team incorrectly. Because we are starring at the players every day and we have a difference of opinion of how good is Roy Miller, or any player on our football team. He gave me that unbiased opinion because all he did was watch the tape. He sent in reports. After that I asked him to evaluate 100 to 150 players in this college draft. Bill is not coming to any of our draft meetings. He is not coming on draft day. But this draft is that critical that I thought an extra set of eyes was important. Regardless, I didn't want to leave any stone unturned and someone with his experience I thought was beneficial to myself and our organization."In general terms what did he tell you after evaluating that 3-13 football team?
"He thought there was a good strong core group of players that you could build around, and he thought that this was a team that started to figure out how to win at the end of the season. I thought that was very encouraging for someone outside of the organization to see it that way."
Can you tell us some of the negatives he gave you?
"No. That might lead into some draft answers."
Give us the organization on Santonio Holmes and Brandon Marshall?
"I think the rule of a general manager of any football team is to have a pulse of what is going on around the National Football League. Do we have a pulse of what was going on? Absolutely. There was a report out there that we were one of the four finalists for Brandon Marshall. That's not true. All I know is, we evaluate each person individually. Just like we do with a college player draft prospect, because we are giving up what you consider value, which is draft choices, and you have to make a determination from there. We certainly were aware of both situations and they were traded to their respective clubs. That's how it works."What do you say to fans who say, why not a fifth-round pick for Holmes and two seconds for Marshall?
"I'd say that we evaluated it internally, and we've made a decision. We are very aware that receiver is a position that we will continue to monitor and look at on this football team. At the same point you have to look into what you feel is best for this football team. We looked at both of them."With those players was it the character issues or was it the compensation and the price was too high?
"It is a combination. I'd rather not get into it too deep because those players are in new organizations where they are getting a new opportunity. We do our internal research on them both from a on and off the football field perspective, and that's what we did."
The team was fortunate to land Sammie Stroughter, but the team has struggled to find receivers. How hard is it to evaluate receivers?
"I would say I don't know how fortunate we were to find Sammie Stroughter. I think we found Sammie Stroughter on purpose because we were the one team that drafted him. So I see it as a little different honestly. Receiver is a tough position to evaluate, because of the scrutiny that is put onto it. I think every fan that comes to our stadium sees a guy who drops a ball, and how does that parlay and how does a guy handle it in such a big stage. I think you have to spend extra time, and that's what we've done in this draft. Again we've taken this draft class and turned it inside out, and worked with it for the last 12 months to make sure we can utilize the picks that we have with this team. There are things you can do with receivers is let me see a cut up of every five-yard out on every receiver. Let me see a dig route. Let me see a comeback on each individual route, and let's do a reel of the receivers running the exact same routes and see the differences of how they catch the ball, how they run after the catch, do they slow down. With the technology we've been working on that to make sure we can utilize that if we select a receiver in this draft it is a guy that we think has a real chance to help."Is this a good draft to be sitting at three overall to move up or down the draft board?
"It is never great being three, but the benefit of being 3-13 is you get to draft high. I'm very excited about our opportunity with the first pick, but I also like the way the draft is actually formatted with the first round being Thursday night, then Friday night the second and third round, and then Saturday. Because of where we are positioned it gives not only us time to formulate our strategy of what is on the board and what makes sense, but it also gives teams time to decide if they want to make a decision in moving up instead of a typical seven or five minute window where you only have ‘X' amount of time, now you're giving clubs behind us 24 hours in some cases is this a place I want to be and how bad do I want to be there. It also gives me 24 hours to say ‘that sounds good but I either like a player and I want to pick them. I might want to move up two spots to St. Louis selections, or you know what I like the offer but I just got an offer from another club that I like a little better,' and I'll have time to battle that back and forth. In terms of being at the number three spot it is actually very beneficial to this organization, especially with where we pick."
Thus, it is good to be at three but maybe more so after the first round?
"I think they are all advantageous. I think each night brings its own element of advantage to that."
What did you get out of your visits with Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy?
"Yeah we had both players in. Obviously I would be disappointed if we didn't. I think everybody would be disappointed if we didn't spend extra time with either one of those extra two players. I will say shocked may be better, or let's get him out of here. But I would say on each of those two young men is that they come from really strong backgrounds. I like their family backgrounds and I think they are really good kids. They are two kids that you would put on the podium in front of everybody and say here is our first-round selection, and you'll listen to them and hear them, and be very proud of how they handle themselves. Both on and off the football field. I'm not surprised that everybody talks about those football players in the top five, and they've earned it. From not only what they've done not only off the football field, but what they've done on the football field." Is that a position that is harder to project considering not many are drafted as highly as these two are projected to go?
"I don't know if it is really hard to project what you expect them to do. We just look at, we've gone back over a lot of drafts as far as looking at different positions, and kind of looking at what went wrong at the other selections. Whether we had a higher grade on them or not, bottom line is somebody had a high enough grade on them for them to go where they went. What was the missing element or missing trait? And we've done that to see if they can pass the test."
How much consideration would you or have you given to trading down?
"I will say this we've gone through, and I've gone through internally, a lot of just war games I guess you could say, or games or scenarios, and I've gone through different scenarios if we decide to move back. So we are prepared for doing that either way. If a question was posed if you were on the clock right now with the number one pick could you make a determination as to what we would do with the pick? And the answer is yes, and I should be because we've had 12 months to work with it. We looked into a lot of different scenarios upstairs and role-played a lot of that. Internally I do that and bounce that off of certain individuals. We work through all those things so we are not surprised about what would happen in the draft."
What percentage would you give to moving back?
"I don't know if I could give you a number."
Do you have a sense that a player or what is likelihood that one of those defensive tackles very likely will be there?
"I'll call (St. Louis Rams executive vice-president of football operations) Kevin Demoff and find out."It may not be Demoff.
"It may be someone else, and that is what you have to prepare for. You can't just assume that St. Louis and Detroit are the number one and number two pick."Have you looked back other teams' draft history and how they've had successful drafts?
"I've spent a lot of time studying the Pittsburgh Steelers drafts over the past few years. Especially the drafts in the 70s that got Mike Webster and that crew of receivers. I spent a lot of time researching Bill Polian. I've spent a lot of time researching Bill Polian since his time with Buffalo through his time in Carolina, to his time with the Colts. I've spent a lot of time researching the New England, and why they've had continued success. Especially in that early formative period that built that franchise to what it is going forward, so there is a lot of time you can spend in terms of trying to find elements and traces and I think there is some correlations that you can gleam out of those things to take advantage of, and I certainly hope and I think we can do that."
What is the correlation?
"That's no fun. No I'm not doing that. I'll let other people do the work, but I think there is a correlation that you can derive from some of those."On evaluating the Buccaneers' drafts.
"From our perspective, starting in 2009, we evaluate draft classes differently than any time that I have ever been here in how we use the entire building and the way we use the entire building. We do it differently. We've adapted and adjusted some certain things. We adjusted how we meet, when we meet and who we meet with. We changed up the college reports. A simple example was whether a guy was a team captain or not. Now you check a box and say this guy was a team captain. Before maybe they wrote it in their report, but to me, it's something that's relevant to their leadership or what kind of role they are going to have on this organization. In looking back at past drafts, the only thing I can say is - and I know this sounds a little bit cliché` - but I've tried to take a little bit of [Jerry] Angelo and [Rich] McKay and how they evaluated a draft class. Bruce Allen, he selected Davin Joseph and he selected Aqib Talib and he selected Cadillac Williams. Those players weren't bad (picks). They were good selections. I've looked at all the general managers and tried to find a different way. A prime example for us this year was when we brought in our scouts in February. We didn't talk about first-round players. Generally, our scouts just sat there and scratched their heads and said, ‘Why can't we talk about the fun ones?' I said because we haven't been very good on the ones from the third through the seventh (rounds). I want to focus on that. It's just another way to look at this draft and try to maximize it and a different way to do it than it's been done here before. I want to believe that last year was the start of it and we'll continue to adapt it a little bit going forward."On Gerald McCoy's production, which doesn't stand out as much from his college career.
"I think Gerald McCoy has had a productive college career. It's hard to say he hasn't. I understand that sometimes if you just look at certain numbers it doesn't always tell the full story of what a guy can do for a football team. I think some people look at McCoy and see six sacks last year. You can't let just numbers influence the real result of his play."On the re-emphasis on a college player's production.
"Yes, but production doesn't just mean one stat. I disagree that it does. You can look at production another way by looking at a player in there and that they can be productive around him because of his impact that he is having on the football team."Have the Glazers told you to trade out of the third pick because of the high signing bonus and the money that might be there may not be worth the player that is there if it is not [Suh].
"Money is not an issue for anything that we are doing in this draft - at all. I hope that answers that."
How many players have first-round grades this year?
"First-round grades ... this draft class can go into the 40's in terms of real talent where you feel like you are walking out with first-round talent. I'm excited about the third- and fourth-round talent."How many players had first-round grades last year?
"I want to say around 22-23. It was right around that. This is a very talented class. I think everybody feels that way. Todd McShay and Mel Kiper feel the same way a Bill Polian does in Indianapolis. This is a very talented class."If this is such a can't-miss draft, is it a referendum on the guys running this team.
"I think it wouldn't be unfair for me to say that this class will have a big impact on the success of this football team going forward. If this draft class doesn't succeed, I probably don't, either."Are you concerned about this lack of speed on offense on your team? The longest play last year was a 47-yard catch and the longest run was 35 yards. That's very low as it correlates to other teams around the league.
"That probably correlates into 3-13. That's something that we are certainly looking into as we go through each pick."How do you view need versus talent?
"I balance it between needs and talent. I think every club leans - as probably as much as everyone wants to say that they took the highest-ranked player on the board - every club has a factor of needs into that selection. I think you have to do that. If you go into the fifth round and you take a punter and the highest-rated player is a punter in the sixth round, I doubt you are going to take another punter just because he's your highest-rated player. There is a needs balance that every team operates with. Every team wants to take the highest-rated player on the board at every time, but you have to factor what can help your football team - not only in 2010, but going forward."
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