In a separate story Dominik discussed the arrests the team has experienced with cornerback Aqib Talib and some staff members in the football operations. Dominik also revealed that long-snapper Andrew Economos injured his Achilles.
Below is a transcript of Dominik’s quotes surrounding the Buccaneers. The questions or statement from the media appear in bold.
Is there a strange feeling about this because you are going to draft kids and bring them in and say, “hey welcome and please leave the building.” It is an unusual scenario.
“It is unusual. It is going to be unusual to ever have the draft prior to free agency it is a bizarre situation. I think all 31 other clubs are going through it right now. It certainly is unusual not to have college free agency after the draft when it can be very busy. It is certainly a time where three or four hundred guys get contracts. You are in there negotiating with agents and trying to convince the player that this is the right spot and you got to wait until after the last pick is in before you can even start that process. It was a three or four hour event upstairs that was organized chaos is what you try and make it and to not have that is another bizarre feeling that when that seventh round compensatory pick goes in for the Bucs everybody goes home. That is going to be a lot different feeling, but other than that you prepare for whenever that day comes with college free agency and certainly pro free agency.”
How does not having free agency and not knowing if players like Barrett Ruud, Cadillac Williams, Jeremy Trueblood are even going to be back affect you a week from today?
“I think it opens up the draft board for the organization. Certainly there are still questions to be answered on this roster. Again we are at the beginning of this process for our football team. We like the success we had last year, but we didn’t make the playoffs. We didn’t win a playoff game. We really haven’t accomplished much and we are just getting out of the starting gate with where we are at. It opens it up and you just look at the board and be honest with yourself where is the right talent for this football team in 2011 and 2014, 2015. It doesn’t change it actually opens up my board even more or our roster even more to make sure our pick is the best player on the board.”
Would drafting a player push your decision on re-signing a player like Barrett Ruud?
“I say it this way and an easy way to answer that is in 2009 when I first got here I made the trade for Kellen Winslow. I wasn’t going to draft a tight end in the first or third round of that draft because I filled that spot, even if I felt there was a tight end there that I was like wow this is a really talented guy that could be good. It just didn’t make sense because I just filled it with what I felt was a Pro Bowl caliber tight end. It is inverted that way right now because I haven’t filled those spots even though there are players that will be or could be unrestricted free agents. You have to assume that you have none them and work from there going forward.”
Is the draft an inexact science because undrafted players like LeGarrette Blount and Chris Ivory have more success than some drafted players?
“No I think for me it is the opposite. It is the amount of work you put into it at the front end to take advantage of the first day where you have the chance to draft the players. Take advantage when the draft is over to sign college free agents, and make sure you carry that over to when players get cut, and when players are placed on practice squads. The more familiarity you have the easier the transition is to say that is the guy I want to claim, or that is the guy I want to try and convince to come off their practice squad to help build our football team. There are countless hours. I’ve spent more time with Dennis Hickey than I have my wife clearly over the last many months just watching tape trying to get prepared for this draft class. Some of our scouts have spent tons of time trying to prepare our organization to make sure that when draft day comes we are picking the right players to help us that time. We are not going to hit on every player even though when you turn that card in you feel like we did. But I think over the past couple of years we are really hitting our stride, but we are continuing to really push our scouting department and make them think in different ways to keep them fresh and to make sure we don’t get complacent. No more than our football team wants to be complacent at 10-6 and not make the playoffs. I don’t to walk up here a week from now and have a bad draft because I’ve had good drafts before. It is all about internal drive.”
Why do you think that you guys have hit arguably better on undrafted free agents than your drafted guys?
“I don’t know. I would say that again I think we’ve spent a lot of time on those. I think we’ve hit really good on our drafted guys and I think we really did on not just the first-rounders. I know Gerald [McCoy] was an unfortunate injury but I think we all agree he was playing better and really starting to get into a groove. Certainly Josh Freeman any time you get a franchise quarterback in the middle of the first round or any time really in a draft, it’s a hit. You take our seventh-rounders the past two years and we are five for five on guys that are legitimate contributors to our football team. They aren’t just making it because they can play some special teams, they are making it because they can play a position too. I think that is something that has been really important to us. I think we’ve hit pretty hard and pretty well. At the same point if the pick doesn’t work for us, we move on.”
Last year you knew this draft would be rich on defensive ends and the team obviously is in need of an improved pass rush, are pass rushers the hardest thing to evaluate going from college to the NFL?
“For me I look at a lot of individual traits in each player rather than the sum of the production. There are times where you might see a guy that gets four sacks in college or six sacks in college, and you feel like he’s not going to help your pass rush but when you go back and watch the tape and you say this guy could have had five more sacks because the quarterback got rid of the ball at the last second, they didn’t call him in the grasp or something like that. So you have to go back and look at the tape, and find out what could he have had and then also how does he get the sacks. Again I think there is a different way to look at that two when you are breaking down players and what are their moves to get to the quarterback. The guys that have certain types of pass rushing moves for me internally are the ones that I think are going to translate that to the football field faster, and so I got a certain group of traits that I look for in our defensive ends and our defensive linemen that I think are going to play out and I hope it gives us a competitive advantage on that position because it is a tough position to draft historically. I want to sit there and say that I’d like to think that going forward with our organization over the last couple of years that we are going to continue to push ourselves to make sure that we draft the right guys at any position and specifically if and when we choose a defensive end in this draft that will be a guy that can help us in 2011.”
You’re comfortable with people saying your biggest need is you got to find someone to get to the quarterback?
“I would say that I don’t disagree with that but again it doesn’t mean that is what our first pick is going to be. If, when we have our draft day party over at the stadium if our first pick isn’t a defensive end that doesn’t mean we can’t get to the quarterback ever again, so I would say certainly we are aware of it. That’s why they put on TV for everybody to watch it and tune in and see who are the Bucs going to pick.”
What does it say for the organization to have games back in prime time?
“It is really exciting for us and I’d like us to live up to it because I’d like to have more. But I was very thankful. I was excited that the league put us at 4:15 against Atlanta to have a chance to be a Fox doubleheader game. It is a rivalry that has gone their way the past two years, but also the fact that they gave us two prime time games at home for our season ticket holders is fantastic. It is nice to be back and it is almost fitting that we are playing the Colts again in a way on prime time on Monday night and just hoping for a different out come as we all know. I think it is great. I think it speaks volumes as to what we are trying to do here in Tampa. The talent pool we are trying to put together here and the direction we are trying to head as an organization to get to start to the playoffs to where you want to be a long-term and lasting contender.”
How hard is it to hit on three straight first-round picks?
“I think the pressure that goes with the number one makes it that much more difficult for the number one. I think that is a big part of it because there is so much scrutiny, so many people have their opinion and the NFL draft is becoming almost as popular as fantasy football because there are so many websites of people that have their opinion, which is great. It has helped the draft grow in its popularity. Certainly everybody has an opinion. No matter who I take at 20 there is going to be hundreds or thousands of people that say I didn’t like him I liked the other guy and so it is going to put more pressure on a first-round pick.”
Which teams have hit on three straight first-round picks?
“I will say a team that I admire for their more recent history is Ozzie Newsome [the Baltimore Ravens] and how great they’ve been with their first-round choices. I just think they are an organization that I’ve studied who lately has done such a great job with their first-round selections. I’ve looked at what did they do? Why did Todd Heap? Why did these players continually hit? Ray Lewis. There are so many players that have hit in Baltimore in the first round. Terrell Suggs. Haloti Ngata. You are like whoa how are they doing this? You look back at the reports and dig back into the character of the guys and what is it about those players. As a historian to help learn from history like anything we do to try and get better that is a team I’ve been focused on.”
You look a head to next year’s draft what do you see for some of the strengths of that draft?
“I see wide receiver being a really strong position in the draft next year. It feels like cornerback is going to be strong as well. And quarterback will be strong again next year. Those are the three I see as being strong. We’ll see if it holds true a year from now, but I think we were right last year.”
How will you approach free agency this year? Will you try and find a missing piece or two to just get over the hump?
“I think we will take an open approach. We don’t shut down free agency in general. I just know that as we were talking about teams we like to follow, the Colts have bought Adam Vinatieri and that’s it, and they’ve been perennial playoff contender and Super Bowl contender on top of that. Obviously the Packers don’t dive deep into free agency. They certainly did with [Charles] Woodson. Obviously we did with Simeon Rice and Brad Johnson. Then you have the Pittsburgh Steelers who nibble at it. That’s where we’d like to be because that is a sign of a team that is developing their own players and drafting well. Clearly Ted Thompson has done that in Green Bay. They got over the hump and fought through all those injuries and still got to the Super Bowl and win it and I think that was a great learning lesson for our young team to watch the Packers win the Super Bowl last year.”
How do you feel about the London game from a competitive standpoint?
“A lot of you guys went over to London and saw the stadium, the thing that I loved about London was it was a playoff atmosphere mentality there even though we were an 0-7 football team playing the New England Patriots. I’ll remember London for Josh Freeman and that infamous phone call that got us in trouble. The 0-7 phone call I guess. What I like about it is it creates a different atmosphere. When you end up being a playoff football team having been a part of this football team when we were in the playoff hunt and specifically on the road it is a different atmosphere than a regular home or away game during the regular season. I loved that about the London trip because there is a great contingency of Buccaneer fans there that cheer very loud even though we were 0-7, but there is also a lot of other football fans, so it creates that atmosphere for our young football team and a little uncomfort and at the same point it teaches them how to play in different environments so I’m looking forward to the London trip and I’m excited we are playing there.”
At the same time you want to win and you are giving up a home game?
“You should go you’d be surprised how many Buccaneer fans are there. I’m not saying that as a thing against our fans here in Tampa but it is a good Buccaneer fan base there and I think it does challenge our football team and helps us. I think the other thing that helps make up for the perception that we only have seven home games is the fact that we have great prime time games. We have four o’clock kickoffs so it is not as hot. The one Detroit kickoff is at one. There are two 4:15 games and prime time games so we have an attractive home ticket as well.”
~ by Charlie Campbell and Scott Reynolds