Dominik provides a peek at Bucs draft strategy
Mark Dominik is like any other general manager this time of year, which is to say that you must take everything they say with a grain of salt.
When the subject turns to the draft, no one wants to turn over their game plan to the rest of the NFL. But, with that said, Dominik was clear about a couple of things this week when he chatted with us at the Senior Bowl in Mobile.
For one, he didn't shy away from the fact that the Bucs have a very real interest in drafting a defensive end. That won't come as a shock to anyone who saw the Bucs' anemic pass rush in 2010, but the candor still is a departure from the norm.
Secondly, Dominik explained rather clearly the team's thinking in not drafting a defensive end in the early rounds last year, when the need was just as great as now. The Bucs purposely put it off, knowing exactly what was in the pipeline for the 2011 draft.
"It's something that we knew in Tampa and I'm sure with 31 other clubs," Dominik said. "Before we go into any draft, we always have to talk to our scouts and say, 'Okay, what's 2012 going to look like in each of your (regions)?' That way you can take advantage of the draft the way you're supposed to."
When the Bucs put that question to their scouts last year, there was a consensus among them that this was going to be a very good year for defensive ends. Now, if the Bucs opt to go for an end in the first round, they're likely to have some intriguing options to choose from.
"We felt it was going to be a really strong class of defensive ends," Dominik said. "I think as you see the names and you're able to see some of them out here practicing and there are some guys who haven't had a chance – some of the juniors – it's a heck of a group. I don't know how many are going to go in the first round, but it's going to be a good number."
Cameron Jordan from Cal is one of those who likely will go in the first round. Watching him in person this week in Mobile was quite the eye-opener for this reporter who saw little, if any, of him during the season. He showed quickness, speed, power -- the total package. Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue was no disappointment himself. He seemed to live up to his billing as relentless pass rusher who never gives up on a play. When I asked him his main characteristics, that was the first thing he mentioned. He clearly takes immense pride in giving maximum effort.
There are a number of other defensive end options, too, that might be available to the Bucs at No. 20. Also, don't ignore the possibility of the Bucs selecting something other than a defensive end in Round 1 and opting for an end in Round 2.
Frankly, anything is possible.
"There's a lot of work to do, but there's a lot of positions that we feel we can upgrade at," Dominik said. "And we certainly need more depth. I wouldn't pigeonhole us just yet."
Fair enough. But at this point, we know how the Bucs -- and probably the rest of the NFL -- feel about one position that is particularly important to Tampa Bay.