The 2010 draft has come and gone. Most of the draft pundits agree that the Bucs had a successful and productive draft, going not only for need, but providing value to the franchise. Granted, none of us, none of the draft "experts", and none of the coaches will truly know how well any team drafted for several years. The initial responses have been positive, now we have to hope the coaching and performance of these picks is on par with the value provided.
Mark Dominik went into the 2010 offseason as a man under fire. With a 3-13 team that was devoid of talent at many positions, there were cries for him to be a one and done general manager. When free agency rolled around and he announced that the Bucs would not be participants in the spending sweepstakes, the chatter for his ousting grew. Then the Bucs left Antonio Bryant walk, failed to trade for any of the big name wide receivers, while keeping dead weight (I'm looking at you Clayton) on the roster. This led to an all out assault on Dominik and his supposed inability to craft a team.
All along, Dominik talked about the draft, how deep it was, how we had more picks than anyone else (tied with the Patriots at 12), and that we wanted to get younger and build through a process where talent was widely available and scouting, nto dollars would determine the winner.
As the draft unfolded, things started to fall into place. Bradford went #1 overall, guaranteeing the Bucs a potential franchise changing defensive tackle. As Suh went off the board, I inched to the front of my seat, hopeful that the name I wanted to hear would be announced. As Goodell announced the pick, I watched as McCoy's head sunk, his eyes filled with tears. Not a reaction of disgust, but of a dream reached. While I did without the tears, I was in the same boat as McCoy, ecstatic to have him become part of our franchise. There would be no second guessing, no "what if" scenarios played out by Bucs fans, Dominik had made the pick that anyone of us would make.
As the second round started to unfold a night later, I wondered which direction we would go. I was hopeful wide receiver would be in the mix. Dominik surely had read my article on how bad our defensive line was in 2009 as he selected Price with our first 2nd rounder. At first, a few people scratched their heads, but eventually, people began to see the light. A first round talent in the second round at a huge position of need in which we really had no starters in 2009. We instantly go into 2010 with a trio of McCoy, Miller and Price as opposed to Miller, Hovan and any other guy. I'd say that's an upgrade.
The trade up for the 39th pick caught my interest. Who did we give up? What would we use the pick on? I was hoping we would go wide receiver, and though he went a different direction (and a better one the more I think about it), Dominik obliged and took Benn off the board.
This theme continued through the draft. Pick after pick, we addressed need with talented individuals. We took a leap of faith on Mike Williams, which brought some raised eyebrows. Look at it this way. If the guy pans out, we got an absolute steal. If he doesn't, we lost a 4th rounder. Sure there was other talent available in the 4th round we could have taken, but this guy helps at a HUGE position of need, and with the proper due diligence being done, became a logical pick.
I left the draft weekend feeling quite enamored with our draft. I haven't felt that way about all of our drafts, but this seems to be a big step in the right direction. In five years, we may look back and see that Dominik went 0 for 2010 or maybe he hits on every pick. There will be hindsight analysis done no matter what the outcome. But at first glance, Dominik has put his fingers to his lips and told the collective Tampa Bay area to "sshhh, give us time". I may not have agreed with the free agency moves (or lack thereof), but I'm willing to see how this draft turns out. A lot of us said this was a huge draft for a franchise, and a determining factor in how this team would progress over the next 3-5 years. We don't know now, but it seems we avoided burying the franchise, and could begin re-shaping our team.
Morris, Olson, Freeman.......it's your turn now.