Opening statement from General Manager Mark Dominik:
“I’ve been very excited. We added Eric Stokes to this department last year from the Seattle Seahawks. [He’s] now our director of college scouting. I think he’s added a lot of valuable insight to different capacities with how Seattle has done drafts and different ways he’s grown up and seen the draft process through different organizations. I think [Stokes] has been a good addition. Dennis Hickey has put in a lot of time, and we have ten scouts that are out on the road. These are guys that hit it hard and are really the unsung heroes of our organization. We have ten of them that grind the pavement every day. They’re out and about right now as we speak; they’ll be flying in late tonight. We’ll resume some final discussions starting tomorrow for a couple days, and then we’re ready to draft. We’re still fine tuning things; our draft board is not set today. That’s the way I’ve always felt the draft board should be. But I’ll take any questions you guys might have about the draft.”Did you approach the draft differently with the idea that you might trade for Darrelle Revis?
“Well I would say that I prepared the entire time as if we had all of our selections. We set our board in that capacity; it hasn’t really adjusted or changed much since the trading of the 13th pick. But we approached it through all of our meetings as if we did not have Darrelle Revis on this football team. We approached it just to make sure if it didn’t happen we were prepared.”How does the presence of Darrelle Revis effect how you approach the draft?
“I think the main thing with Darrelle Revis being on the football team is it allows us to have more flexibility. It doesn’t hold you as hostage to cornerback, which obviously everybody knew that was a position of need for this football team in terms of just continuing to develop the competition at a high level. So I think it actually expands our draft board. I think it allows us flexibility starting with pick number 43. The ability to consider going up, it also allows you to stay there or move back. But I think you don’t feel like you’re hostage to a position, [which] is a tough place to be in the draft, and that causes mistakes. We’re trying to not do that, and I think that our draft board now opens up very well for the entire draft at basically every position.”
How bound were you by the lack of top-level cornerbacks before Darrelle Revis arrived?
“I think this is going to be one of the more intriguing drafts in a long time. I think it’s going to be really hard to put who’s going where right now. I think you have a lot of question marks with health concerns with some players. You have some question marks with experience with some other players. So this is a really interesting draft, I think it’s going to make great drama for me as well to watch other teams and the way they decide to evaluate some of these players against where we’ve ranked them. So I think that’s interesting. I think at the cornerback position, I’ve always kind of talked about I thought this was always a deep corner draft. And I do think it has depth through the middle rounds, and I think that’s what’s encouraging if you’re going to sit up there and make a pick, whether its second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth where we have selections today.”Do you want to come out of this draft with a young quarterback?
“I’m not opposed to it. I won’t force it, but I’m not opposed to it. I think Ron Wolf was on something a long time ago. He talked about always drafting a quarterback, and it worked out well for the Packers. Although they’ve only had two starters for as long as I’ve been in the league almost, it’s worked out well for them. They’ve been able to trade guys away and acquire stuff if that quarterback doesn’t have to play for them. So I think there’s something to that. If it’s not forced, then absolutely, we’ll consider that.”Without a first round pick, what’s going to be different this year as you sit through the first round of the draft?
“You get a little antsy because you’re excited to get back in it. But we’ve already gone through upstairs again, sitting with Coach Schiano, sitting with Eric Stokes, with Dennis Hickey, we’ve already gone through scenarios. Here are the list of guys you’d consider to go get, depending on if they drop far enough, here’s what it takes. And so we’ve gone through a lot of games that way, and we don’t want to approach the draft any different. We’ll still have our running draft board; our top five prospects will always stay up there. As soon as one gets selected we’ll put the next guy in starting with the first five picks. So, although we don’t pick until pick 43, we’ll have and maintain the same process because I think it’s been the right way for us to do it.”Are the dynamics this year a lot different in terms of trading up because of what you already have on the team?
“I think it’s a little different. I think we have a lot of our “holes” on our team filled in a good capacity. So I think it allows you to be more patient if you feel like it. But if we have a grade like we did with Lavonte David or Doug Martin like we did last year, we have a grade on there and the need is where it is, then [we’ll be] aggressive. But I like where we’re picking right now in the second round.”Do you feel you have the ammunition to move back up into the first round?
“I do in the fact that we still have all of our selections behind us. We walk into this draft class with seven picks still, an extra fourth and an extra sixth. And I think that allows you the ammunition to move around and be fluid if you want to.”Do you feel that there are some defensive line players around where you’re picking that could make an impact on the team?
“It’s got some talent at that position in this draft. I think defensive tackle, quite frankly, is one of the deeper positions in the draft. I think a lot of people feel that way, and it’s true. So do you have a chance to pull a guy at 43 or 73 even, I think there’s an opportunity for that. I think it’s a good class in that regard, and that’ll be one of the positions that will be interesting to watch.”Is the depth at a position in the draft a reason for letting a player like Roy Miller go in free agency?
“That’s one of the ways you can think about approaching the draft. I look at it more as in each individual case through free agency is it’s own animal. You get to a point that you’re comfortable with and if it reaches or passes that point for that position on your team, you have to make a tough decision, and obviously the players have choices too. So that’s the way we’re building this team. So the draft certainly, with the deals we get in the draft right now and the compensation that the rookies are getting paid, are important to make sure you’re making good selections for guys that can fill, regardless of if it’s a guy that plays fourth down, or a guy that plays on first down.”Are you in the position to draft guys for depth instead of immediate starters?
“I feel that way. I think that’s what I talked about when I said that there isn’t a glaring hole on the roster right now. Certainly you can improve the talent on the team, that’s the whole point of the draft. But I think we’re in that position now where we do have enough starters across the board that we can continue to add depth to the team. We want them to be productive players and get out on the football field and start to earn their stripes.”Do you feel there are more strong starters on the offense than on the defense?
“Your greatest strength today, could be your biggest weakness. We dealt with that at guard this last year thinking that we were walking into the season with the two best guards, and we never played one game with them. So, it’s hard to look at it that way and I don’t disagree that we’re trying to look at both sides of the ball equally. I can assure the head coach is definitely in favor for as much defense as possible, but the reality is you’ve got to really be careful not to go down that road with your team because you end up in a situation where you lose some players at a position and you say, ‘boy if I had just taken him last year we would be in a lot better shape’. So you try to stay with the level of the talent with the player. And that’s why everyone sits back and says, ‘we’ll take the best player that’s for the Bucs, for the team’. And that’s how we have to approach it.”How do you prepare for players that you like getting picked before you pick?
“The way we do our boards up stairs is a little different than we’ve had in years past. We try to answer those questions upstairs prior to the draft. So we slot accordingly, one through about 240 players upstairs right now. And [we ask], would you take this player of this player? And this player over the next player? And it’s very difficult; it’s a long process. It takes a lot of time in terms of watching tape; going back in having some more meetings, go back out watch another two games. Yeah I feel confident about where I have him on the board; yeah I would take this player over that player.”When you were signing Darrelle Revis, were you keeping in mind that Josh Freeman is in his contract year?
“Yes, of course, you have to. And that’s been something that we’ve talked about from a budgeting standpoint, from a cap standpoint, everything. Absolutely we’re aware of Josh’s situation and the fact that he’s going into his final year. As well as other players, I mean we have other players that are hitting free agency next year that are guys here that we like. So we try to be mindful of a few guys when you’re looking through what the Revis contract was.”Do you think teams are going to want to move up into the top ten in the first round?
“You get rumors and whispers of that. We had been calling around just a little bit, and then I stopped calling for [the 13th pick]. But we’re calling around on 43 now, and we’re trying to maneuver and get ready for trades now so that people know where you’re at. But you sensed a couple teams might have some interest in moving up, but I think that’s one of those where the right player has got to be there for them to be able to do that. So you’ll get action but I don’t know how much action it’ll be.”Who is in your war room that has significant input in calling the shots?
“Obviously if ownership wants to be in there, that’s their choice. I have all of my scouts in there obviously, because if there’s a last second question I need answered. If there’s something about the medical I’ve got the trainer in there he’s able to hit a question on the medical. If there’s anything else that seems ambiguous or need to be answered. Other than that, it’s coach Schiano, myself, with Dennis Hickey and now Eric Stokes are the ones that are in the war room.”
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.