Bucs trade up 10 spots to the second round and select Nebraska LB Lavonte David
Say this for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they are not willing to be landlocked in the staid waters of two losing seasons in the past three years.
That became abundantly clear in the first couple days of the NFL draft in which the Bucs rode a wave of three trades by general manager Mark Domink and coach Greg Schiano to fill gaping holes on their team.
The wheeling and dealing continued Friday when the Bucs traded up into the second-round with the Houston Texans to select Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David with the 58th overall pick.
"I think we got better in the last 24 hours,'' Schiano said. "We really got better.''
It all began Thursday when the Bucs moved down to spots from No. 5 overall to No. 7 with Jacksonville to select Alabama safety Mark Barron. In the process, the Bucs picked up the Jags' fourth-round pick (101 overall).
Then just when it appeared the Bucs might call it a night, they traded their second-round pick and swapped fourth rounders with the Denver Broncos to take Boise State running back Doug Martin.
Dominik, playing with what he called 'house money,' used the fourth-rounder he acquired from the Broncos and the Bucs' third round pick to move up 10 spots and into the second round to take David, who will play outside linebacker.
"Athough we started the draft with six selections, we've walked out now with Barron, Martin and now Levonte David and we still have four more selections, a five, a six and two sevens,'' Dominik said. "So I'm very excited about what's going on.''
The 6-foot-1, 233-pound David had 285 tackles in 27 starts at Nebraska, including a school-record 152 in 2010, when he was the Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year. Had 28 tackles for losses, 11.5 sacks, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions for the Cornhuskers.
David's background is very similar to that of Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 16.5 sacks last season. Like Paul, David attended high school in south Florida and played Fort Scott Community College in Kansas before transferring to Nebraska. But rather than melt in the bright lights of Division I football, he became an All American.
It was a really humbling experience, coming from a powerhouse high school (Miami-Northwestern), where you have a lot of teams and stuff looking at you and then not being able to qualify to go into a big Division I school and having to go to junior college,'' David said. "It's very humbling. I learned a lot at junior college, you can't take nothing for granted. I thank the Lord every day for taking me on this path and its led me the right way.''
In the first three rounds, the Bucs addressed arguably their three biggest needs: safety, running back and linebacker. David, whom Dominik said was the best linebacker in coverage in the draft, will most likely play at weakside linebacker. The Bucs have toyed with the idea of moving middle linebacker Mason Foster outside, but that seems less likely after drafting David.
Dominik said it was tough waiting for the right moment to pull the trigger on the deal that brought them David.
"There's a couple times you have to hold your breath and say, "I want to hold my water here, because I want to use that fourth again to do it,'' Dominik said. "And then I pushed and pushed to make sure I got a pick back because you never know if that seventh could back into play.''
Schiano, who last was in the NFL as a defensive backs coach for the Chicago Bears in '98, was never invited into the war room until taking a big role in the Bucs' draft the past two days. He said he was impressed at Dominik's feel for when to make a deal.
"I was really impressed,'' Schiano said. "As you guys know, Mark is a pretty good poker player. He waited and waited and he was patient. Then when it was time, he went and did it. Yeah, I was anxious, we all wanted the player.''