INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – Knowing thy neighbor is an important aspect of the NFL Draft. When the Chiefs reach the on-deck circle, 10 minutes away from going “on the clock,” recognizing the needs and wants of the selecting team can help make the draft process a little less unpredictable.
Last year, Kansas City’s draft day neighbor was the Washington Redskins. Guiding a team with a bit of mystery surrounding them, but with a consensus need for an offensive tackle, former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan followed suit by selecting Oklahoma T Trent Williams with Washington’s first-round pick.
The rest is written.
Drafting ahead of the Chiefs this year is a young team not unlike Kansas City. Drafting in the 20th position is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Steering a seven-win turnaround to go 10-6 last season, the Bucs are sitting with a franchise quarterback (Josh Freeman) and a large investment at defensive tackle with 2010 draft picks Gerald McCoy and Brian Price.
According to ESPN’s NFC South writer Pat Yasinskas, Tampa’s top-five draft needs sit at defensive end, safety, running back, linebacker and offensive line.
One of the first general managers to speak in Indy was Bucs GM Mark Dominik. A University of Kansas alumnus, Dominik got his start in pro football with the Chiefs scouting department in the early 1990s.
If Yaskinskas’ needs list matches that of Tampa’s front office, the Bucs might be looking to selecting an offensive lineman at number 20. Dominic is certainly high on the class.
“It’s a good offensive line year,” Dominik said. “The tackle class is really strong. They weighed in today in great shape and you can tell that a lot of guys are really taking this seriously and have gotten themselves in great spots. I think it’s a really talented offensive line, specifically at the offensive tackle spot.
“I think there will be a lot of guys selected in the first couple of days and deservedly so. Their tape is as good as they look physically, which is encouraging for every club as we try to keep our quarterbacks healthy.”
Specific to what the Bucs are looking for in an offensive lineman, Dominik pointed to positional versatility.
“Internally, from our organization, the more versatility you have – whether you can flip between right and left guard or both tackle spots – the more versatility a player has can really make them stand out and look more attractive when your choice comes up for the draft,” said Dominik. “Those things definitely play into it and we’ll feel that out here over the next couple of days.”
Dominic is also open to trading Tampa’s first-round pick, feeling that his team sits in an optimal place to move up or down the draft board.
“I like where we’re at,” Dominik said. “My first year, when we were at number 19 and traded up to number 17 to get Josh Freeman, it was a very active spot. I think that it has been a very active spot for trades over the years in that number 20 range. I think it is going to give us the ability to do either thing. We could sit still, or we will have the ability to move up or move back. It’s always been a good spot to pull a deal if you want to.”
Dominik has a history of being active on draft day. Aside from the Freeman trade, the Bucs moved up three spots last year to select Illinois WR Arrelious Benn in the second round, parting with second and fifth round picks in the process.
The Bucs also picked up a fifth rounder this year after trading two seventh round selections to Denver.
“I like the depth of the draft this year. I think it’s become a very strong draft and I think we’ll be able to take advantage of that at number 20,” said Dominik.