Mark Dominik knows he has work to do.
The Buccaneers general manager addressed the local media yesterday and acknowledged shortcomings and unfulfilled expectations in the draft classes he and his staff have conducted over the previous three seasons.
"You have to go back and look at your draft classes...if you don't learn from your mistakes, you're bound to create them again."
All of which brings us to next week's NFL Draft.
Unlike free-spending teams like Dallas or Washington who can address needs via-free agency on an annual basis, the budget-conscience Buccaneers rely heavily on the draft for an infusion of talent and depth, and can ill-afford to "miss" on prospects.
So, how many times have Dominik and staff "missed' thus far?
Of 23 total players selected during their tenure, only eight are current projected starters. In other words, one could argue that two out of every three picks thus far have been poorly used. For example, defensive tackle Roy Miller was selected 81st overall in 2009. Three picks later, Pittsburgh drafted WR Mike Wallace.
Talk about needing a mulligan.
Now granted, it's always easier in hindsight to question a selection or ponder the 'what-ifs', but it's Dominik's job to minimize the frequency in which fans and the media are doing so. Suffice it to say, eight out of 23 is not a good number.
If the Bucs struggle again in 2012, should they look for another GM?
Unless you're hitting cleanup for the Rays.
The important thing to remember in all of this is only three of those 23 selections were made in the first round. And lets face it, while it's critically important to get your first-round choice right (see Adams, Gaines), it pales in comparison to the importance of the other six rounds.
Because the reality is first rounders usually garner the attention and put butts in the seats, but those selected in the subsequent rounds are who will ultimately decide whether your team will enjoy sustained success.
And the proof is in the pudding.
Remember the 2002 Buccaneers team that won Super Bowl XXXVII? Of the 22 starters, only five were first rounders. Heck, the MVP of that Super Bowl, safety Dexter Jackson, was drafted in the fourth round. Better yet the winning quarterback, Brad Johnson, was selected in the ninth round and receiver Keenan McCardell in the 12th.
Furthermore, some of the greatest players the Bucs and their fans have ever known were non-first round picks. Mike Alstott and James Wilder (second), John Lynch and Ronde Barber (third), Hardy Nickerson (fifth) and Shelton Quarles (undrafted), among the countless others.
My point is, if the Bucs are to right the ship and set sail towards smoother seas, Dominik and staff cannot continue to only get it right 35 percent of the time. Because with success rates like that, general managers don't usually last very long.
100 percent of the time.