Saturday, January 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs have plenty of options on Day 2

TAMPA — Bucs general manager Mark Dominik admits there is a different feel to this draft. There's no overwhelming need to fill an immediate need. And the Bucs have nearly all of their starting jobs filled.

So with their first-round pick traded to the Jets for All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis earlier this week, Dominik resisted the urge Thursday to trade up and recoup a first-rounder.

It might have proved anticlimactic, but Dominik rested easy knowing his team is in better shape than at any time in the recent past.

"I feel that way," he said. "I'm excited about that. I feel like that's why I've talked about us not having anything that's a glaring hole on this roster.

"Certainly we can improve the talent of the team. That's the whole point of the draft. But certainly we're at a point now where we have enough starters across the board and we can begin to add depth to the team."

So with the first round in the books, Tampa Bay turns its attention to tonight's second and third rounds, during which it owns the 43rd and 73rd picks.

Those selections should allow the team to come away with NFL-ready players, given the depth of the draft at positions including defensive line and cornerback. Both are needs for the Bucs, but trying to handicap their intentions will be difficult — at best. The acquisition of Revis helps ensure that because the team has addressed what was, by far, its biggest weakness.

"Being hostage to a position is a tough place to be," Dominik said.

"It causes mistakes. Our draft board now opens up to look at almost every position."

The Bucs will have several options tonight at positions at which they could use depth. Among those is defensive line, where Tank Carradine of Florida State and Margus Hunt of SMU went undrafted Thursday.

The departure of the team's sack leader, Michael Bennett, via free agency has made defensive end a position to watch during this draft.

The Bucs, despite Revis' addition, probably aren't done at cornerback. They anticipate Eric Wright starting across from Revis, but there's a substantial drop-off beyond them.

Players including Jamar Taylor of Boise State and Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State are still on the board, so the Bucs are within striking distance of guys considered among the best at their position.

"The interesting thing about this cornerback class is it's a great group of young men," Dominik said. "They're strong off the field. They have great work ethic. They have size. They can move well. There's a lot of great qualities in this cornerback class, which I think is unique. But at the same time, I don't think we have to draft a corner."

Dominik's coyness continues when the subject of drafting offensive players is broached. Most would argue the Bucs have significantly more talent on offense than defense, but there's an openness to selecting offensive talent, even tonight. That's true even despite the Bucs' defensive-minded coach, Greg Schiano.

"We're trying to look at both sides of the ball evenly," Dominik said. "I'm sure the head coach is definitely in favor of as much defense as possible.

"But the reality is you have to really be careful going down that road with your team because you can end up in a position where you lose some players and you think, 'If I would have just taken him last year, I wouldn't be in this position.' "

The team learned that painfully last year when one starting guard, Davin Joseph, missed the entire season and the other, Carl Nicks, missed about half of the season due to injuries

"Your best strength today, tomorrow might be your biggest weakness," Dominik said. "We dealt with that at guard last year. We walked into the season with the two best guards in the league, and they never played one game with them (together)."

Whatever the Bucs wind up doing, they'll do so without the pressure of having to address major weaknesses in their roster.

"I think we have a lot of the holes on our team filled," Dominik said. "It allows you to be more patient."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @HolderStephen.

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