Bucs scouting director talks draft

In the first part of this question an answer session, Tampa Bay Buccaneers director of scouting Dennis Hickey talks about the Bucs' preparation for the NFL Draft this weekend. Watch for Part II on Wednesday.

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Is your draft board, at this point, done or is it still a work in progress?

Dennis Hickey: All of our scouts, as you know, it's been a nine or ten month process for them. We've been building. Our scouts have evaluated these players. Our coaches have evaluated these players. We've lined them up, assigned them grades and at this point we're lining them up within the grades, stacking them you might say, and just seeing where our coaches are at, where we're at and where we see these players.

How much predicting of the first round do you do?

Dennis Hickey: We try to get somewhat of a feel. Of course, it's a lot easier when you're picking fourth like we were last year as opposed to 20. You generate a certain pool of players, which of course is bigger the further away you are from No. 1. Each players has been treated the same from one to 350 so we're prepared for all the players. But there's a certain group we think will be there when we pick in that range.

Is it the best available player or is there a certain position you look at (in the first round)?

Dennis Hickey: We go with the best available player for the Buccaneers at that point. We like our team. We've had three days of OTAs so we could see all the new additions to our roster. Our pro department, Bruce (Allen), Jon (Gruden), they've brought in several people, free agents, that are really going to help our team. So it's good to get an idea of what we have in those new players. So that's helping this process. But we go with the best available player for the Buccaneers at that pick.

You put a lot of emphasis on watching film. When you bring a player in for a pre-draft visit, what exactly are you trying to glean from that meeting?

Dennis Hickey: The pre-draft visits will be for a couple of reasons. Sometimes it could be medical, maybe our doctors want to see a prospect again. Or maybe we want to have the rest of our organization see them. During the combine there's a lot going on. We want to get another look at the guy. Sometimes it's comparing two guys. Maybe we want to see how they fit in organizationally with everyone here.

Can you talk about how much bluffing goes on by teams leading up to the draft?

Dennis Hickey: We don't get into that much. I know there's a lot of posturing, especially at the top of the draft. We're focused on evaluating the players correctly. That's our focus. Making our evaluations and getting our guys right that we have targeted or that we have at that pick.

Can you talk about all the preparation that goes into this day? Based on your past experiences, does it go the way you expect or do you see a lot of curveballs?

Dennis Hickey: We try to eliminate as much of the surprise as possible, as much as we can control. The No. 1 thing, as I said before, is evaluating the players correctly. That's what we've been doing the whole past year. Coaches started getting involved in the process in late January. The last two weeks we've talked about players and hashed out disagreements, and we do have disagreements. It's a subjective business. We've tried to line those guys up as we see them organizationally the last two weeks. As always there are surprises, guys you thought would go earlier or later, that kind of thing. For the most part we want to be prepared for ourselves whenever we pick.

How does this draft stack up with the past couple of drafts?

Dennis Hickey: I think it's comparable. Each year it's a whole new animal. Each year there are different strengths at different positions. Really the best way to judge is not in the moment but when you look back on it after three years. That's the best time to really judge a draft.

Not having a Top 10 pick this year, are you more relaxed this year or do you feel the pressure to get the pick right at 20?

Dennis Hickey: I treat it the same regardless of where we're picking. We feel like we're going to get good players at every round. So we have the same mindset if we're talking about a fifth-round prospect or a first-round prospect. We want to get them right. That's our job as scouts. We know the player backwards and forwards, how the player fits for our team so we treat them all as important.

With only five picks, is there less margin for error in the later rounds?

Dennis Hickey: We want to line up the player, we have them graded the way we want them and it's a matter of (taking) the best player available. Each pick has pressure. We want to get each pick right. It doesn't mean we always will but it's my job to get that right.

Is the pick made by committee? Who has the final say?

Dennis Hickey: It's been a collaborative effort. We've gotten together with the coaches the last two weeks. We've gotten together as an organization and hashed it out. There are a lot of different opinions and in the end we come up with the final decision on draft day. But we have them lined up the way we see it organizationally.

Do intangibles come up during the draft? Does someone say, ‘Hey, in my gut this guy may not measure up but I just know he's going to be a star someday.' How often does that happen in the room?

Dennis Hickey: We evaluate each player first of all on their tape and their performance, their play and production — the player. But we also evaluate each prospect on their makeup and character. How will he fit into our locker room? How will he fit as a teammate with our current team? Each player is evaluated in that way.

The Buccaneers are nearly a week away from being on the clock. Who will they select? Bucsblitz.com may not know that, but it does know which players the Bucs have met with and worked out privately. Get that information, plus find out how, according to Scout.com's Adam Caplan, you can detect a team's intentions on draft day by looking at the volume of visits and workouts at a particular position. Click here to access this exclusive feature.

Bucsblitz.com's Matthew Postins is running his final Bucs mock draft one round per day this week. Have you see his selections for rounds four and five yet? If not, just click below to find out who he thinks the Bucs will take:

Round 4.

Round 5.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.

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