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Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' draft moves increase competition at several positions

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 04:41 AM
TAMPA -

As the 2012 NFL draft unfolded over the weekend it became clear the Bucs objective was to repair not just the holes they had in their lineup, but the holes they had in their competitive makeup.

After losing each of their last 10 games, and sometimes in embarrassing fashion, last year, the Bucs decided their needs amounted to far more than just an injection of talent at safety, linebacker and running back.

"We wanted to become a much more physical football team with this draft - that was the main concern, and I think we did that,'' Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said.

"We also wanted to become a smarter football team with this draft, and I think we did that. And we wanted to create a lot of competition with this draft and I think we did that.''

Certainly there is more competition at the running back position. The Bucs traded up to get Boise State running back Doug Martin in the first round and grabbed Utah State scat back Michael Smith in the seventh.

Martin, who Dominik described as a three-down back, is expected to give LeGarrette Blount a run for his first- and second-down carries while Smith could wind up pushing Martin for some of the work on third down.

Tight end/fullback Drake Dunsmore, meanwhile, will likely push Luke Stocker for playing time behind Kellen Winslow at tight end and may even push Erik Lorig for playing time at fullback.

One the defensive side of the ball, first-round draft pick Mark Barron will likely step in as a starting safety and third-round selection Lavonte David is expected to step in as a starter at weakside linebacker.

But David will likely be pushed by fifth-round draft pick Najee Goode, whose presence will also push utility linebacker Adam Hayward and reserve backer Dekoda Watson to be better and more efficient.

Even cornerback Keith Tandy, a sixth-round draft pick, should improve the secondary, where former draftees E.J. Biggers and Myron Lewis will now have someone pushing them from behind.

"We got better this weekend,'' Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "We won't know (how much better) until we hit the field and start competing with other teams, but I can feel a sense we are moving this thing forward with our team.

"It is a process, for sure, and that is the biggest thing you have to remember. For now, we will focus on what we have now and we will get better now, and in the end it will all add up.''

The sum of what Schiano is looking to build is a team that abides by what he calls the "Buccaneer Way'' and is made up of a certain type of player that he calls a "Buccaneer Man.''

The work the Bucs did was aimed at defining those two themes. On the field, the Buccaneer Way is physically aggressive, though not risky, and the Buccaneer Man is one doesn't just love football, but lives and breathes it.

"The kind of guys we want are the kinds of guys you have to kick out of the facility at the end of the day, the kind who are going to lose track of time as they're doing football - studying it, working at it,'' Schiano said.

"It's in them. It's in their bones and these guys are leaders because you're not a leader if you don't love the game you're playing because you won't work harder than everybody else if you don't love the game.''

A lot of leaders wind up being the captains of their football teams and the Bucs grabbed several of those as well. Each of their first six selections were captains of their college teams and Dunsmore was a team captain in high school.

"This feels like a really good draft because of the character of the men we took, the production they had as college players and how they're going to fit into this football team,'' Dominik said.

"We were looking for tough, smart, character football players, guys that when you watch them on tape you feel them, guys that are able to make plays either with their speed or their precision or are just tough physical football players.''


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