The Glazer family wasted no time in identifying and securing who they wanted to be their next head coach, locking up Lovie Smith just three days after firing Greg Schiano. The search to fill the vacated office of former general manager Mark Dominik, who was fired after 19 seasons in the Buccaneers organization, is taking considerably longer, although signs are pointing that the field is narrowing.
Kansas City Chiefs Director of Player Personnel Chris Ballard was thought to be the front runner and most likely to be named as Dominik’s successor last week, in part due to his ties to Smith in Chicago. Ballard spent 12 seasons in Chicago holding several roles including area scout before leaving to join the Chiefs last spring.
Reports began surfacing on Wednesday the Chiefs had blocked Ballard from interviewing with Tampa Bay, but then on Thursday it was revealed that Ballard chose not to be in the mix possibly due to not wanting to uproot his family twice in less than a year or because he wouldn’t have final say in personnel. It has been debated, and remains unclear, how much say Smith will have in personnel decisions.
With Ballard apparently out of the mix, here is the latest short list of candidates.
Lionel VitalFalcons’ Director Of Player PersonnelVital, according to reports, appears to be the favorite to fill the general manager role since Ballard has bowed out. Vital has 23 years of experience in scouting and player personnel. 2013 was Vital’s first season as Director of Player Personnel after spending the 2012 season as the Associate Director of Player Personnel. Prior to that, Vital was the Falcon’s Assistant Director of Player Personnel, working with general manager Thomas Dimitroff in a college scouting capacity. Vital also graded the top unrestricted NFL free agents at all positions as well as working onspecial projects with Dimitroff according to the Falcons media guide.
Marc RossGiants’ Vice President of Player EvaluationRoss emerged as a candidate on Wednesday according to FoxSports 1’s Mike Garafolo. PewterReport.com mentioned Ross as a potential candidate last week when previewing potential Dominik replacements. Ross has worked his way up from a public relations intern to his current position with the Giants. In between, Ross has been credited with finding players like cornerback Terrell Thomas, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, offensive lineman Will Beatty and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul as a member of the Giants front office. Ross has interviewed for a handful of general manager openings in recent years, and many see Ross as on the cusp of being ready to take the next step. Ross will reportedly also interview for the vacant GM job in Miami.
Lake DawsonTitans’ Vice President of Player PersonnelDawson may be viewed as third on the list, but his experience, as far as being well rounded, could push him higher on the Glazers list. Dawson had a four-year playing career as a wide receiver with the Chiefs in the mid-1990s and all told has 19 years of NFL experience as a player and in the front office. Dawson has been the Titans’ VP of player personnel since 2012, and has served as their VP of football operations and director of pro scouting. Dawson’s post-playing career began as a front office executive with the Seahawks in 2001 and in that capacity worked with former Buccaneers scout Tim Ruskell for two years. Dawson has worked with former Bucs Director of Player Personnel and current Titans general manager Ruston Webster most recently, even involved in contract negotiations.
Morocco BrownRedskins’ Director Of Player PersonnelBrown has spent the last six seasons in 2013 as Director of Player Personnel after being hired from the Chicago Bears in 2008. Brown has been responsible for coordinating the advance scouting of Redskins opponents, participating in draft meetings, and the evaluation of all professional leagues for potential free agents and trade prospects. Prior to his tenure in Washington Brown spent the previous seven seasons as Assistant Director of Pro Personnel with Chicago and was there for a part of Smith’s time as Bears’ head coach.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
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