Things will heat up today
After a slow first three rounds, the Bucs' draft gets back to normal.
By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 21, 2002
TAMPA -- It was, by all accounts, the weirdest of draft days for the Bucs.
One pick, one player, one long day of waiting.
But for the front office staff at One Buc Place, normalcy is back. After having one pick on the first day of the NFL draft, the Bucs are ready to get busy.
In today's selections, the Bucs have picks in the fourth (119th), fifth (157th), sixth (193rd) and seventh (233rd, 251st, 254th and 255th).
"It will be a rapid-fire type of day, like it is on the stock market," director of player personnel Tim Ruskell said. "We want to make sure that (overnight) we have all our ducks in a row. We have to have our list ready in the order we wish to take the guys. Now, that could change obviously if you get a position filled or no longer have a need, but we have to be disciplined to our list.
"No matter what happened, no matter what trades there are, you have to be true to your list. You have to be ready to go to your next guy. If you're not organized, it could be real chaotic and you can make a mistake."
To ensure Tampa Bay doesn't make a mistake with today's picks, the Bucs plan to focus on a philosophical fit.
"We're looking for guys that fit your team and fit your scheme in terms of your defensive and offensive philosophy," Ruskell said. "You're also looking for guys who can overcome adversity. Guys who have persevered in their own way. You want a guy who thinks he can be a star and obviously have as much talent as you can get with that mind-set."
Statistics show it's not impossible for a late round pick to make the team. Including reserve quarterback Joe Hamilton (a seventh round pick in 2000), there are nine players the Bucs picked in the fourth round or lower. Among those are starting safety Dexter Jackson (fourth round, 1999), starting strongside linebacker Al Singleton (fourth round, 1998) and backup center/guard Todd Washington (fourth round, 1998).
Most earned their NFL stay by contributing on special teams.
"The question is: Can you give me something on special teams?" Ruskell said. "We have to ask ourselves, "How does he make the team? What can he do to impress the coach?' "
While there is a common sentiment that the Bucs need tweaking, particularly offensively, to contend for a championship, Ruskell said late-round picks can sneak onto the roster.
"You need these types of guys to make your team," Ruskell said. "Obviously, they are salary cap-friendly and there are spots because you've lost a lot of guys in the offseason."
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