2011 NFL Draft: With Scouting Combine Done, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Brace for Draft

Dwight DrumCorrespondent IIIMarch 2, 2011

The back side of  Buccaneers' headquarters
The back side of Buccaneers' headquarters

The NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Indiana ran from Feb. 28 through Mar. 1 giving 329 participants a chance to prove their abilities. 

The commonly known scouting combine is the national invitational camp (NIC) that began in 1982 when National Football Scouting, Inc. conducted the first camp for 163 players for its members.  The inaugural place then—Tampa, Florida.  

The key purpose was the same then and now—to get abundant medical information on top draft prospects.  But as the NIC evolved, so did the testing.

The combine uses superior tools to measure top skills.  From 40-yard dashes, vertical leaps and agility drills, scouts observe how bodies fly.  The sum of dexterity from legs, feet, arms and hands includes mental prowess as potential players function under controlled difficulty.  Interview moments are important as well, because attitude and character often identify a professional from a disappointment.

During the impressive display by the gamut, participants sized mostly from XXXL to M, all muscular, some draft prospects lifted their draft chances and some disappointed. Considering that each one was subjected to solo televised physical testing with no team involvement, a different element of stress was ever present.        

The 19 draft choices prior to the Buccaneers’ first pick can influence any planned move bolstered by combine observation.  The depth of the 2011 draft class and the top needs of the Bucs play a huge role in every decision.

The Bucs need a premier pass rusher, lineman or linebacker, to improve their league-low performance last year and thereby hurry and sack quarterbacks.    

Certainly the Bucs saw some prospects they would love to fit with a red and pewter jersey, and part of that has nothing to do with their football skills.  Teams now use interview moments to check out personal history and more.  

Buccaneers.com reported that general manager Mark Dominik was impressed with many prospects and the way they interviewed.

“That’s something that’s been really eye-opening for us as an organization,” Dominik said. “Really refreshing is the fact that with this year’s class, unlike any one I can ever remember, these kids’ character is really strong at every position across the board, from quarterback to safety.  In the interviews we’ve had in our room they’ve come across really mature, really organized and detailed in their discussion points.  I’ve been really impressed.”

The deepest defensive line group in years serves the Buccaneers needs, but 19 choices by other teams prior to their first move may not. 

Looking forward to the draft, and trying to overlook tangled NFL team/labor discussions, it’s difficult to predict how Tampa Bay’s management will fare in the 2011 NFL draft.  Many variables face every team. 

One element favoring good results is recent history.  The team did very well last year in drafting wide receiver Mike Williams and then snatching LeGarrette Blount off waivers.  If they do their jobs that well this year and make good decisions with a draft class that has plenty of needed talent, they could obtain more of the right pieces for a potential championship puzzle.

Viewing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a team on the rise is becoming common, and with several key draft decisions this year, that notion could spread.   

Meanwhile legions of football fans hope that when all teams get their new crop of chosen players they also get the chance to train them for their first NFL season game. It’s also hoped by many that their first game will be in Sept. 2011. 

Photo credit: Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com