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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs make play to fill a huge need

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 04:35 AM
TAMPA -

The Buccaneers continued to bounce around the 2012 draft like a pinball in an arcade game Friday night, and for the third time in two rounds their deft maneuvering scored them what they believe is a bonus selection.

After moving back into the second round by trading their third- and fourth-round picks to the Houston Texans, the Bucs grabbed Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David, who should immediately fill one of the Bucs' biggest areas of need.

"You see the tape and the production just speaks volumes,'' Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said of David, a 6-foot, 233-pound outside backer who could step in immediately as the Bucs starting weakside backer.

"He had 285 tackles at Nebraska, he was a team captain and here is a guy that I think is one of the best coverage linebackers in this draft. He has great movement skills, athletic ability and is a good tackler.''

David's movement skills may be second only to Dominik's. Running his fourth NFL draft, Dominik has now engineered three trades in two rounds to land three projected starters.

He started the run by trading from fifth overall to seventh to get Alabama safety Mark Barron and continued by trading back into the first round to get Boise State running back Doug Martin.

Dominik then sat tight for the better part of the third round before working a deal with the Texans that not only allowed him to move from 68th to 58th{+,}{+ }{+ }overall, but also landed him an extra seventh-round draft pick.

"We haven't picked in our (designated) spot yet,'' Dominik said after working the trade and grabbing David. "We've been moving around a lot but it's because we felt like there were a few players that could make a difference for us.''

David certainly seems to fit that bill. A junior-year transfer from Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, David led the Cornhuskers in tackles during each of his two years at the school and was named its defensive MVP in 2010.

Scouts have expressed some concern about David's size and strength, but Dominik cited David's accomplishments at one of the nation's most notable football factories as proof his size is not an issue.

"Sometimes you can get hung up a little on the weights,'' Dominik said. "It all depends on how he plays with the weight. I like to watch the tape and decide, how does he carry the weight, and at 233 pounds he's physical on tape.''

David was emotional after the Bucs selection was made. A player projected by some scouts to be worthy of a first-round selection, he said he's been humbled by his journey to the NFL and was grateful the Bucs made a move to get him.

"It means they think very highly of you,'' David said of the Bucs decision to trade up to get him. "I appreciate them so much for that. And I guarantee I'll prove myself to them.''

Bucs coach Greg Schiano has no doubts about that. He said David's approach to the game is in keeping with the Bucs previous two selections, which is to say he's dedicated to being the best player he can possibly be.

"Everybody says they love the game but what we want here are guys that live it and this guy lives it,'' Schiano said. "He's one of those that you have to kick out of the facility. He's all about football.

"He's one of those guys that, it's so important to them that they're going to do whatever it takes to win that football game. They're clutch players and coach (Joe) Paterno taught me (the importance of) that a long time ago.

"You watch tape and when the game's on the line, who's making those plays? I think there's a lot to that when you're evaluating and all three guys we've added in the last 24 hours, they make plays."

The thing that has allowed Dominik to keep making plays during this draft is the fourth-round draft pick he picked up when he first moved down from fifth overall to seventh overall on Thursday night.

Dominik used that fourth-round pick and the Bucs original second-rounder (36th overall) to entice Denver to give him the 31{+s}{+t} pick and their fourth-round pick. Dominik then used the fourth he got from Denver to move back into the second round and take David.

Now Dominik has an extra seventh-round selection, which he believes could prove valuable either as a tool to move back into the fourth round or as a selection the Bucs keep.

"I pushed and pushed to get that pick back because you never know how that seventh will come into play,'' Dominik said. "We could package that and move again or, that (could be another cornerback like E.J.) Biggers or a (wide receiver like) Sammie Stroughter or a (fullback like Erik) Lorig or a (linebacker like) Dekoda Watson. Sevenths have been good to us the last few years.''


rcummings@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7979

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