Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs' draft enhances GM Dominik's reputation
Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik was reviewing the first three rounds of the 2013 NFL draft late Friday when he noticed what to him was a disturbing trend.
With nine defensive tackles already off the board, a position group that Dominik once considered deep was now looking rather thin, so he knew he'd have to get aggressive to avoid being shut out of it.
No problem there.
Dominik had already made more than half a dozen draft-day deals since taking over as Bucs GM in 2009 and he only enhanced his reputation as a draft-day wheeler and dealer by making three more trades Saturday.
“Just as I said last year, I thought Mark did a masterful job,” Bucs coach Greg Schiano said of Dominik, who worked deals for Illinois defensive tackle Akeem Spence, Patriots running back Jeff Demps and University of Miami running back Mike James.
“Now, a lot of that is patience, but that's hard, because I know who we want and as a coach you're dying (because) we've got to get that guy and Mark just says, 'It's OK, we're going to get him.' It's all a matter of managing the phones and the other GMs and again, Mark was awesome.”
Dominik cut his first deal of the day with the Oakland Raiders, swapping the 112th pick for the 100th and giving Oakland one of his two sixth-round picks for the opportunity to draft Spence.
He then traded running back LeGarrette Blount to the Patriots for running back/Olympic track star Jeff Demps and a seventh-round pick that eventually went to Minnesota in a deal that allowed the Bucs to trade up and take James in the sixth round.
“I've found myself to be mostly calculated,” Dominik said. “I think that's better than aggressive, because I want to make sure we're making the right decisions at the right times, and I think we did that in this draft.”
Dominik began calculating a week ago when he traded the 13th overall pick in this year's draft and a conditional fourth-round selection next year to the New York Jets for four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis.
He sat tight on Day 2 of the draft, spending the 43rd pick on Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks and the 73rd pick on North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon. As he did, though, the defensive tackles began disappearing.
After four were drafted in the first round, five more were drafted in the second and third. That still left Spence, whom the Bucs had been eyeing all along, but Dominik felt like he had to make a move to keep from losing him.
“He was the one guy that we felt could still have an instant impact and go in there right away on Day 1 and be a starter for us,'' Dominik said of Spence, who will be given the chance to replace Roy Miller at nose tackle.
“We didn't use that pick on him to watch,” Schiano said. “We want him in the mix and competing. We think that he is tailor-made for what we do defensively. I mean we really do. That's why we went to get him.”
The Bucs went after Demps and James for different reasons. Both are considered depth pieces, especially Demps, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the 4x100-meter relay who still isn't sure if he wants to run track or play football.
“We just took the contractual rights to him to see what happens,” Dominik said. “He practiced here against us last year in Tampa (during the preseason) and played against us (in a preseason game) and he had a good game.
“But that wasn't the reason for the trade. He was part of it, but not the reason. We were going to do LeGarrette for a seventh-round pick but we took the rights to Jeff Demps because we want to investigate that further.”
The Bucs have more concrete plans for James. A versatile back who can also play fullback and on any down, he's seen as an upgrade over Blount, who was limited by his inability to adequately protect the passer and catch the ball.
“He can do everything,” Dominik said. “He's very dependable, very trustworthy. He's an Earnest Graham type of player. He's bigger and taller than Earnest, but he's selfless like Earnest and really can do a lot of different things.
“As for LeGarrette, he was going into the final year of his contract and he's been with us for a couple different (coaching) staffs now and he's been a good player, but we felt this was best for our team.''
The Bucs were a team that went into the draft needing help at cornerback and along the defensive line and most of their efforts on the final day of the draft were aimed at addressing the latter of those two needs.
In addition to trading up for Spence, the Bucs spent their additional fourth-round pick on Michigan State defensive end William Gholston and their fifth-round pick on Buffalo defensive end Steven Means.
“We selected four very good players today with a lot of strength, a lot of length and a lot of good character and we're really excited about bringing them onto this football team,” Dominik said.
“As Mark said, we're building it our way with our kind of people and I'm excited about that,” Schiano said in summation. “I think we made ourselves better today. In fact, I know we made ourselves better today.”