Ronde Barber fine with Bucs building through draft
Though Bucs veteran cornerback Ronde Barber knows he isn’t getting any younger, he said he understands the team’s philosophy of building through the draft.
“I buy into it because that’s how our teams of the past were successful,” Barber said Friday, after playing in the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am in Lutz. “We’ve always built through the draft. We’ve never been very, very, active in free agency. We’ve had some pretty significant trades over the years. But we’re not a team that tries to find that free agent guy, we’d rather develop them. That’s our philosophy and I’m ok with it.”
Barber, 35, was asked if he’s willing to wait, even if building that way means the team is a few years away.
“You know what? I’ll play this year,” he said, smiling. “Maybe we’ll find a way to turn it around...I’d like to think that. I think that’s why I’m still around, to give my senior expertise to some of these young guys. If it takes longer than I’m here, I’m fine with that, too.”
Barber acknowledged this will be an important draft for the Bucs, who have the No. 3 pick next Thursday. He said while, “in the past we’ve tried to find some guys that didn’t fit for us, I think we’re putting our best foot forward" to find guys that fit this year.
“You look for a guy that can play for us, that can be a franchise kind of guy,” Barber said of the Bucs pick at No. 3. “We think we got that in a quarterback last year, and whatever they pick this year, whatever the position, whether it’s d-tackle or whether it’s something else, you want that guy to be one of the rocks of your team. You’ve got to find that in your first round pick. If you play bad the year before, you deserve the right to pick somebody that is gonna be the foundation for your team.”
Barber said he’s liked what he’s seen from Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (“He manhandles people”) and has heard good things about Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. “If they’re there and that’s the direction we decide to go with that pick, I’m happy with either one.”
And while Barber didn't reference Tennessee safety Eric Berry by name, he said teams shouldn't rule out any specific position with their top picks. "Good players are good players," Barber said. "If you find Ed Reed at No. 3, take him. Just because he's a safety, doesn't mean you wait until after the top-10 picks because it's a safety."
But Barber, a former third-round pick (in 1997) out of Virginia, said what also could make this draft for the Bucs is the middle-round guys.
"You have 11 picks, you build your team, like (GM) Mark (Dominik) says, from the bottom up," Barber said. "Not always your first rounder, the guys that make up the bulk of the rosters are in rounds 3-4-5, maybe some of the free agents that nobody's really paying attention to. With the number of picks we have, we need to find those guys this year and we need them to contribute."
-- JOE SMITH