Saturday, June 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs make three trades, acquire five to end draft

TAMPA — Sometimes, they held their cards close to their chest. Other times, they riffled the deck and sent players and picks flying every which way.

But when the wheeling and dealing ended for the Bucs on Saturday, they said they were happy with what they pulled off during the NFL draft.

What began a week ago with the trade for Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis ended six days later with running back LeGarrette Blount shipped to the Patriots for former Florida star Jeff Demps and a seventh-round pick, which the Bucs used to move up in the sixth round to take Miami running back Mike James.

All told, there were four moves general manager Mark Dominik pulled off and countless other occasions he needed the nerves of a jewel thief to let the draft come to him.

"When everybody is on the same page, it's about executing. It's not about making decisions," coach Greg Schiano said. "(Dominik) did an awesome job, and we're a better team for it."

After waiting for Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks (43rd overall) and N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon (73rd) to fall to them Friday, Dominik took a more aggressive approach on the draft's final day.

First, the Bucs moved up 12 spots, to the third pick of Round 4 (No. 100), in a deal with Oakland and selected Illinois defensive tackle Akeem Spence.

"As you went to bed, you look at that defensive tackle class, and it had been hit hard," Dominik said. "He was like a beacon for us in terms of all the defensive tackles."

The 6-foot-1, 307-pound Spence, who did 37 reps of 225 pounds at the combine, replaces nose tackle Roy Miller, who signed with the Jaguars.

With the fourth-rounder they got from the Patriots last year for cornerback Aqib Talib, the Bucs selected Michigan State defensive end William Gholston. While producing only 10 sacks in three seasons, Gholston had 30 tackles-for-loss and is capable of playing on the right and left side.

In the fifth round, the Bucs doubled down at defensive end by selecting Buffalo's Steven Means. "He might be a little bit off your radar, but he wasn't off ours," Dominik said.

The Bucs previously dangled Blount but didn't find a taker until the Patriots. Tampa Bay's two-time leading rusher became an afterthought with the arrival of rookie Doug Martin last season and had only eight carries over the final nine game.

Demps, an Olympic sprinter, played in two preseason games with the Patriots last season before being placed on injured reserved with a leg injury. Dominik indicated the former Groveland South Lake High standout wants to continue competing in track and football.

"We were going to do LeGarrette Blount for a seventh-round pick," Dominik said. "But we asked for the rights to Jeff Demps because we want to investigate that further."

The Bucs sent their new seventh-rounder to the Vikings to jump six spots and select James, a versatile, 5-11, 222-pounder whom Dominik compared to former Buc Earnest Graham: "Mike is selfless like Earnest and can do a lot of different things."

The games will be tougher, but the Bucs believe they did well in the trade derby.

"I've found myself to be calculated, I think, more than aggressive," Dominik said. "I want to make sure we're making the right decisions at the right times, and we did that in this draft. Whether it's trades or the draft, you've got to be willing to keep your mind open. Because if you sit still, you're going to let things come and go and you're always going to be left out. We don't want to be that organization."

 
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