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No distractions on draft day

By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 20, 2003

TAMPA -- Rich McKay likes to receive input, but too many cooks can spoil the draft.

"I remember the first draft that I was part of in '92 and they were cooking food in the back (of the room)," said McKay, who took over as the Bucs general manager in '95. "That's the God's honest truth. There was food being cooked in the back and there were some sponsors and stuff. We're sitting at the table and I remember James Harris, who was one of our scouts, was talking and I couldn't hear a word he was saying.

"Part of that was a reaction to how coach (Ray) Perkins had run his draft because he had a draft where there was three people in the room, I think. Sam (Wyche) was trying to be more open, but it was wild."

That's why McKay, coach Jon Gruden and his staff, as well as the scouting department, will complete their meetings early this week and try to reach a consensus on how to rank players well before Saturday's draft.

"I've witnessed how hard it is to make a decision when there are 58,000 people in the room," McKay said. "Opinions were still being taken on draft day. Every year after that, it became more apparent to me that all that input and all those meetings should be done by Wednesday of draft week. There should be no more meetings, there should be no more discussion.

"We've probably got 10 people in there. Then what I try to do, I try to go after every round and meet with position coaches and say, 'Okay, it's getting down to these people, so let's go back through them one more time.' This is the way we have them ranked and this is the way we're going to go."

Three out of the past four years, the Bucs have been mostly spectators the first day of the draft.

Due to the trade for Keyshawn Johnson and the rights for Gruden, Tampa Bay has been without a first-round pick since 1999.

By virtue of the Gruden trade and winning the Super Bowl, the Bucs won't pick until the end of the second round, the 64th overall choice. Tampa Bay has seven picks overall, including two choices in the fourth round thanks to a compensatory pick.

"It's a similar feeling to last year," McKay said. "I think the main difference we've discovered is that the moon won't be out when we pick. There actually might be sunlight, it's rumored. We're going to run out and make sure there's sunlight."

At least the first-round pick the Bucs gave to Oakland for Gruden is last in the round by virtue of winning the Super Bowl.

"At one point, this franchise traded a first-round pick (to Indianapolis) and it turned out to be the second pick (in '92)," McKay said. "For a backup quarterback (Chris Chandler). So, yes, you're always happy to surrender a first and have it become the 32nd pick. There are teams, and we're one of them, who say don't ever trade future picks because you might be trading a top-five pick. So it's nice to be able to trade a first-round pick and it actually ended up being No. 32."

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