The Bucs are without a first-round draft pick for the second consecutive year thanks to the trade for head coach Jon Gruden last year. But giving up the last pick of the first round (32nd overall) to Oakland in exchange for the head coach that brought the first Super Bowl championship to Tampa Bay was well worth it.
"No issue there: yes," Bucs general manager Rich McKay said when asked if the trade for Gruden was worth surrendering the team's first-round pick this year. " At one point this franchise surrendered a first-round pick and it was the second pick. For a backup quarterback. So, yes, you're always happy to surrender a first and have it become the 32nd pick. There are teams, and we were one of them, who say, 'Don't ever trade future picks because you might be trading a top-five pick.' It's nice to be able to trade a future pick and it actually ended up being number 32."
Bucs director of college scouting Ruston Webster concurred with McKay's sentiments.
"That made the (Super Bowl) victory a little sweeter," Webster said of giving up the last pick of the first round to Oakland. " If we had to give them a pick, it might as well be the last one (of the first round)."
The Bucs are quite content with picking at No. 64 overall, which is the last pick of the second round. The team doesn't feel like it has any pressing "needs" at any positions, so they're looking at this draft as a way to add depth and add players who can contribute on special teams.
"We'd like to get some depth at certain positions," said McKay. "We wouldn't mind getting depth at the offensive line, we wouldn't mind getting depth at linebacker, we wouldn't mind getting depth in the corner. There are a lot of guys, positions where we wouldn't mind adding a player to, specifically those who can come in and help us on special teams."
Since the team has managed to bring back all but three starters (C Jeff Christy, FS Dexter Jackson, LB Al Singleton) from last year and filled those voids with what the team believes could be upgrades, the Bucs are in a position to take the best available player, which is the same strategy they've tried to stick to since McKay became Tampa Bay's general manager in 1995.
"There have been times in the draft room when some guys want one guy and we need a certain position," said Webster. "There have been times, but I hate to say specific times.
"There are positions we would like to take care of (this year). But I have always said this, and Rich (McKay) has always said this, we are not going to pass a good player to fill a need. Especially now when we feel our needs are not glaring."
That said, there's still a chance the Bucs could move up or down in this weekend's draft. In fact, history suggests the Bucs will do one or the other, or possibly both.
Around the halls of One Buccaneer Place, McKay is often referred to as "Trader Rich", especially this time of the year.
Tampa Bay has been involved in a draft-day trade every year since McKay became general manager.
Since 2000, the Bucs have parted ways with four draft picks in order to trade for wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson and select the likes of right guard Cosey Coleman and left tackle Kenyatta Walker. Three more picks have been added to that list since the Bucs handed the Raiders a total of four draft selections to Oakland last year in exchange for Gruden. The Bucs will be without its second-round selection in the 2004 NFL Draft due to the trade for Gruden.
And the Bucs gave up another draft pick last summer when the team traded its 2003 seventh-round draft pick to Miami for tackle Cornell Green.
That's a total of eight draft picks the Bucs have parted ways with via trades for draft picks and/or players since 2000.
BUCS DRAFT MOVES SINCE 2000:
WR Keyshawn Johnson: Bucs traded 2000 first-round picks (13th, 27th overall) to the New York Jets in exchange for Johnson.
G Cosey Coleman: Bucs traded 2000 second-round pick and fourth-round pick to Carolina for the Panthers' second-round pick.
T Kenyatta Walker: Tampa Bay traded 2001 first-round and second-round pick to Buffalo in exchange for the Bills' first-round draft pick.
HC Jon Gruden: Bucs traded 2002 first-round pick and second-round pick along with its 2003 first-round pick and 2004 second-round pick to Oakland in exchange for head coach Jon Gruden.
T Cornell Green: Tampa Bay traded its 2003 seventh-round draft pick to Miami in exchange for tackle Cornell Green.
McKay's history as GM certainly suggests the Bucs could make a move on Saturday and/or Sunday, but can the team afford to? The Bucs have, after all, given up eight draft picks over the last four years, and they only have six draft picks this weekend.
While the Bucs will likely stay put at No. 64 overall, they'll be all ears in the War Room when it comes to entertaining phone calls from other teams regarding possible trades.
"I think there's a good chance (we'll stay at 64)," said McKay. "Like I said last year, when you get down that far it becomes very hard to move up. And if you're going to move up, you're only going to get to move maybe 10 places, and to do it is going to be very expensive. You might. If you're list is running out and you're down to one guy and you say, 'Let's go.' He's on your list, he's above the line and he's the last one left…yeah, you'll consider it. But that probably will not happen. I didn't think it would happen last year and I don't think it will happen this year."