Tampa Bay targeted penetrating defensive tackle Gerald McCoy with the third overall pick, and McCoy was available to general manager Mark Dominik, who understands the puzzle is far from complete after one pick in Round One.
"If this draft class doesn't succeed, I probably don't either," Dominik said.
The Bucs entered the second round with 10 more picks in the draft. They drafted a second defensive tackle, UCLA's Brian Price, and took wide receiver Arrelious Benn in the second round.
While McCoy might be the player the Buccaneers wanted from the jump -- according to McCoy, coach Raheem Morris said "I was his guy all along" -- there is plenty of talent available to restock a roster in need of widespread repair. Dominik said the number of players who have received a first-round grade from the Bucs is 'into the 40's.' By comparison, a year ago, he said it was '22 or 23.'
"It's a very talented class and I think everybody feels that way," Dominik said.
"I think it would be unfair for me to say this class (won't) have a big impact on our football team going forward," Dominik said. "Because we're going to build this through the draft."
The Bucs made a decision not to be active in free agency this year because of the diluted class in an uncapped year. They have stockpiled draft selections, gaining extra choices with the trades of Gaines Adams, Alex Smith and Luke McCown.
"I think it is a very talent-laden draft. Part of the reason last year after the draft, when we sit around and talk to our scouts we actually do that in February, we've already talked about the 2011 draft in some capacity. We identified not the only the senior class that we thought was going to be a very talented class, but knowing the possibility of the uncertainty with the (collective bargaining agreement) we thought that a lot of underclassmen would declare for this draft and they did. That is the genesis of why we decided to acquire as many picks as we possibly could. That is why today we got 11 going into the week of the draft."
--First-round pick Gerald McCoy, a defensive tackle from Oklahoma, said he expects and but doesn't invite comparisons to Warren Sapp. He understands it comes with the territory as a defensive tackle in the Buccaneers' defense.
"I don't like them at all," he said. "Sapp is too great. I haven't proved anything at all."
--The Bucs were well aware of receivers Santonio Holmes' and Brandon Marshall's availability by trade this week, but general manager Mark Dominik said the team opted not to pursue either player after investigating their situations.
"I think the role of a general manager in any football team is to have a pulse of what's going on around the National Football League," Dominik said today. "Did we have a pulse of what was going on? Absolutely. I know there was a report out there that we were one of the four finalists for Brandon Marshall. That's not true.
"All I know is we evaluate each person individually. We dig into it just like we would a college prospect because you're giving up what you consider is value -- draft choices. You make a determination from there. We certainly were aware of both situations... I'd say we evaluated it internally and we made a decision. Receiver is a position that we're going to continue to look at and monitor on this football team. But you've got to look at what you think is best long term for this football team and that's how we looked at both of them."
--The Bucs hired former scout Bill Rees as a consultant for the NFL draft. Rees also evaluated the talent on the team's current roster.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I told myself, 'Ah, I won't cry.' Yeah, right. I really tried to hold it in, but I was overwhelmed with emotions. We probably were thinking the same thing, both missing my mother; knowing there should've been an extra chair there." -- DT Gerald McCoy on his reaction to being drafted third overall by the Buccaneers. McCoy's mother, Patricia, died in 2007.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--S Jermaine Phillips broke his hand and finished the year on injured reserve.
--DE Jimmy Wilkerson has started at left defensive end is recovering from a torn ACL. He proved he's not an every down player.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--FB Byron Storer (not tendered as RFA) spent the year rehabbing his knee. He could be done.
--LB Rod Wilson (not tendered as RFA) is a special-teams player and backup middle linebacker.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (*indicates restricted because of uncapped year)
--*OT Donald Penn (tendered at $3.168M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) is a very capable left tackle and did his best the first weeks of 2009. But then he seemed to shut it down and gained weight.
--*LB Barrett Ruud (tendered at $3.268M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) is a solid, if not flashy middle linebacker who thrives in the current system. The Bucs would like to see more nasty in his game.
--*OT Jeremy Trueblood (tendered at $1.759M with second-round pick as compensation), as the starting right tackle, led the Bucs in penalties against last season.
--*RB Cadillac Williams (tendered at $2.299M with first-round picks as compensation) was the Bucs' most inspirational player who played in all 16 games despite tearing previously the patellar tendon in both knees.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--WR Mark Bradley: RFA; (tendered at $1.809M with second-round pick as compensation); $1.809M/1 yr.
--LB Angelo Crowell: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--*WR Maurice Stovall (tendered at $1.176M with third-round pick as compensation) came on late in 2009 after injuries were experienced by Michael Clayton. He's a tall, rangy receiver.
-*LB Jon Alston: Not tendered as RFA by Raiders; terms unknown.
--WR Reggie Brown (trade Eagles).
--S Sean Jones: UFA Eagles; terms unknown.
--S Will Allen: UFA Steelers; $4.4M/3 yrs, $950,000 SB.
--P Josh Bidwell (released).
--WR Antonio Bryant: UFA Bengals; $28M/4 yrs.
--WR Brian Clark: Not tendered as RFA/Lions; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Torrie Cox (released).
--P Dirk Johnson (released).
--QB Byron Leftwich: Traded to Steelers.
--LB Matt McCoy: Not tendered as RFA/Seahawks; terms unknown.