Mark Dominik Speaks

April 29th, 2009

Bucs general manager Mark Dominik appeared with the dean of Tampa Bay sports radio “The Big Dog,” Steve Duemig on WDAE-AM Tuesday afternoon. The audio file can be found here.

Joe has a transcript below.

Steve Duemig: The pick of Josh Freeman has drawn a lot of attention. I watch a lot of football. I have ESPN GamePlan. I watched a lot of Big XII games. It’s not that I don’t want the kid to succeed, but the Big XII doesn’t play defense. Any concerns?

Mark Dominik: You have to take it all into consideration. You look at the tools. You go as deep as you can. Who has he played against? What weapons were around him? How he makes his decisions? You look at 2008 and a step further, 2007 when he had Jordy Nelson he was productive. This year, his completion percentage was not as strong. But when you asked him to take the big shot down the field, I am comfortable.

SD: Big shots down the field decreased his accuracy?

MD: It can. Sure, that did decrease and we do want to see a good percentage. [Kansas State] is a team that did struggle on defense so he had to come from behind and throw the ball deep and that did affect his accuracy. When you look at the tools, he was high enough on our draft board to make sure we got him.

Why did we move to No. 17? In our reasoning, Denver was there. I was concerned about Denver. There was enough information out there that people thought we would take him at No. 19 and we were concerned someone would jump up at No. 18. Carolina came up from nowhere last year just to move up a couple of spots. To eliminate that risk, moving up was worth it.

SD: There was enough information available that there was someone who would jump up and get him?

MD: That’s how I felt. No. 18 was a bulls-eye. He was high enough on our draft board that at No. 17 we made sure we got him.

SD:  You said that you got a chance to watch him when the Bucs played in Kansas City and you went out to the Kansas State-Kamas game.

MD: What he did was I saw how he handled adversity. He battled through a tough ballgame. That was a perfect game for me to see. He didn’t quit. He didn’t pout. It wasn’t statistics that you always want to see but it was one of those games when you see how he reacts to a downslide. Is he still a leader? Does he still try to get the team to rally? Those things helped me.

SD: Did it concern you at all his record against winning teams? Even Jay Cutler put his team on his shoulders in a strong SEC conference. There was no defense in the Big XII. Other quarterbacks in that conference put up big numbers. Freeman did not have the best numbers vs. those defenses. And he didn’t have a winning record. Did that concern you?

MD: It was hard, I don’t want to make an excuse but we thought he made progressions from his freshman year. His interceptions were down. His accuracy did decrease but there was no one else drafted from that program last year. That made it hard on Josh and we were comfortable with our scouting. He made progress.

SD: Did you have to sell this pick to the Glazers?

MD: I certainly talked to them and let them know the thought process not only for the first round but through the seventh round. I’ve been with Tampa Bay since 1999. We’ve used 10 picks on trading for or drafting quarterbacks and the most production we’ve had came from Brad Johnson and Jeff Garcia who we didn’t trade for. Hopefully this is our franchise quarterback. A franchise quarterback is a guy who can go out each week and win the game and be a winner.

SD: Would [Freeman] have not been such a good pick with the previous regime?

MD: We felt he was a good fit for Jeff Jagodzinski system. He’s good and accurate when throwing on the run and can throw down the field. He has an accurate, big arm. He makes good play-action plays that can be devastating for the defense.

SD: You didn’t draft a linebacker. You stuck to your guns.

MD: We had the opportunity with Angelo Crowell and he will be up and running. I am excited about the young guys we had. It’s a good opportunity for them to battle with Phillips and Crowell. But stepping into the draft, I was comfortable with our linebackers and we were able to attack the defensive line early.

SD: Does this make a better football team? There is competition at every position. Does this make a better football team in your mind?

MD: Yes. Competition brings the best out in everybody. Guys in the offseason  programs, guys in the weightroom. I’m excited about the guys that are here. There’s competition in the building. The guys we selected have the opportunity to play. With Moore and Miller, we’ll see if they can take a starter’s role. If not, they will have a chance to play quality minutes.

SD: People are saying Peria Jerry should have been drafted. But the scheme didn’t fit. Did you feel there were people that forgot you had scheme changes?

MD: There is a change. Miller may not have the weight of a big man but he has good strength and good leverage. He holds his point. He has strong hands and can shed the block. He did that consistently in Texas.

SD: Even the seventh round pick, all the picks are from Division-1 programs. Tell us about Meyer.

MD: He has the ability to play left end. He’s 270, 6-5 and an athlete and that was important. I have been in Tampa long enough to see big bodies get cut. He has the ability to get bigger and be 290 and be in there on third down. When he rushed inside he led USC in sacks. That was exciting for us.

SD: Do people read too much into numbers?

MD: One of the projects we did this year, we created sack reels on each player we were interested in and then we look at how did they get the sack. If he got a sack on an error or was unblocked, we didn’t count that as a sack. We wanted someone that showed power, someone that showed speed, something that showed the ability to turn the corner from the edge, show something athletic and showed something that he earned  a sack.

We take that into account for anyone that is rushing the passer. How did they get the sack?

SD: What do you ask the kids to do when you bring them in?

MD: We look for starting the foundation of our schemes. We load them with information and see how they retain it, see how they learn. We try to get them up to speed and get them in conditioning. See if they have stayed in shape. Get the wheels moving that this is the National Football League and not college. We selected guys that are football junkies.

SD: How do you learn that?

MD: We were completely satisfied with Freeman’s worth ethic. We dug with Moore and with Miller and the other selections. Part of it was leadership. Part of it was a big heart. We have our area scouts go to the schools and talk to academic advisors and strength coaches and the position coach. How is his motivation? We dig deep on that. We wanted guys who were viewed as leaders. Roy Miller was the Texas team captain. That meant a lot to us and then you put the tape on and we were very, very impressed.

SD: So how was your first draft?

MD: It was good, it was intense. There was an adrenaline rush as you can imagine. You sit there and it’s getting close to making a selection, whether it’s the fifth round or the first round. It teaches you patience and you really have to trust the information you get. It was very exciting.

SD: How many mock drafts do you do and do you look at others?

MD: We do it a little bit different. I ask our coaches, I put guys in groupings into rounds and then rate them. We have scouts and coaches in there. “Who are you taking? Let’s walk through this.” Instead of working through four rounds, we put up five or six guys who might be there.

SD: During the interview process did anyone work there way off your list?

MD: I try not to do that. You have so many people you get to interview at the combine. You select the kids there. Some have a blank look or a bad attitude. If you talk to Morris and don’t get excited, something is wrong with you. We throw softballs at them and see how they react. We use medical information and interviews and see where we can put them on our board.

SD: Freeman doesn’t play this year, right?

MD: Ideally he sits back this year and watches how things work. You hope a guy can sit out a year. We’ll work with him and see how he progresses but competition is important. We’ll see how he feels. It’s important for a guy to sit and learn and not to rush him. For a quarterback it’s nice to sit back and learn.

3 Responses to “Mark Dominik Speaks”

  1. M_Weber Says:

    Scariest part of this interview: “It’s a good opportunity for them to battle with Phillips and Crowell.”

    I really didn’t want to believe they were serious about moving Phillips and starting Sabby. I guess they were. 1-16 this year.

  2. e2 Says:

    I think we can do better than 1 – 16, but I feel ya…

  3. JoeBucsSteveCampbell Says:

    Great interview. People may not agree with the direction, but it’s nice to see a plan being followed out.