Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris will spend a week evaluating draft-eligible talent at the NFL Scouting Combine this month
Here's something new you'll find on Buccaneers.com this offseason.
Each weekend, we'll do a quick recap on some of the previous week's news, with a little bit of extra information that wasn't included the first time around. Unless it was a particular news-thin week, in which case we won't.
That's pretty much it. So let's move right along with a little more info on…
…the defensive line coaches:
Both Nunn and returning staff member Todd Wash will have the title of "defensive line coach." That's something of a new arrangement for the Buccaneers' coaching staff, but it's not unprecedented. In fact, Tampa Bay did the same thing in 1995 when it hired coaching veteran Tom Pratt to work alongside returning defensive line coach Ken Clarke. That combination only lasted one year, but not necessarily because it didn't work. Head Coach Sam Wyche was let go after the 1995 season and incoming coach Tony Dungy put together a whole new staff, with Rod Marinelli in charge of the defensive line.
In addition, Nunn comes to Tampa from a very similar set-up with the Packers. He spent the last four years tutoring the Packers' defensive tackles, having great success developing such up-and-coming standouts as Johnny Jolly and Corey Williams. Nunn first arrived in Green Bay in 2005 along with his former Miami Dolphins' coworker Bob Sanders, who was brought on to coach the defensive ends. When Sanders was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2006, the Packers brought in Carl Hairston to take over the ends, with Nunn remaining as the defensive tackles coach.
Though it has yet to be officially announced, it appears likely that Nunn and Wash will have a similar arrangement, with one focusing on the ends and the other working with the tackles.
…Clifton Smith's Pro Bowl trip:
Smith is just the third player in NFL history to go from undrafted free agent in the spring to a Pro Bowler by the end of that same season. So Smith is in Hawaii this week, and he's taking Buccaneers.com along for the ride.
Well, at least in a descriptive sense. Smith is sharing his Pro Bowl experience with Buccaneers.com readers through a short series of interviews phoned in from the 50th state. The next one will be posted on Monday and will include his thoughts on what actually happened in the game on Sunday.
Smith did take a long a very large group of family and friends. And while he obviously has some means as an NFL player he was, as we said, a rookie this year, and an undrafted one at that. Plane flights and hotel rooms in Hawaii could have been a bit of a strain on the young man's wallet, but his family chose not to put all the burden on him.
"A lot of them said they were going to pay for their trips because they didn't want to put me through that," he said with a laugh and maybe a small sigh of relief. "I can breathe a little bit."
Smith wanted to share his experience with family and friends because he believes it will be the most significant all-star game he plays in, even if he eventually repeats his Pro Bowl honor. (And it may be the last Pro Bowl in Hawaii for awhile, too; next year it will be played in the Super Bowl city – Miami – the weekend before the championship game.)
"This will be the biggest one for me, just knowing my story and how I got here," said Smith, who suffered a knee injury during his Fresno State playing days that nearly ended his career. "And doing it in my first year, not a lot of people get that chance. They play a whole career and don't even make it, so for me to make it in my first season, that's special for me."
…the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis:
As we mentioned on Buccaneers Insider this week, the Combine is rapidly approaching. In fact, Day One of the annual event is Wednesday, February 18.
Held as always in Indianapolis, the combine runs seven days and is a nonstop rush of workouts, measurements, strength tests, intelligence quizzes and sit-down interviews. For the Buccaneers, Head Coach Raheem Morris and General Manager Mark Dominik will be there for the entire week and will lead the efforts to interview dozens of draft prospects during the evening hours.
Director of College Scouting Dennis Hickey and his staff will also be there for the duration. However, the team's coaches will come in and out of Indy based on which groups of players are working out on which days.
For instance, the tight ends, offensive linemen and kickers will arrive first on the 18th and will be the first group to actually work out on the field on Saturday morning. Obviously, then Buccaneers Offensive Line Coach Pete Mangurian will need to be in Indianapolis on Wednesday but he won't have to stay for the entire weekend.
Quarterbacks, receivers and running backs arrive on Thursday and work out on Sunday. They are followed in stages by the defensive linemen, the linebackers and finally the defensive backs. The last workouts of the Combine are scheduled for the morning of Tuesday, the 24th.
…the Hall of Fame:
As always, the NFL announced its next Hall of Fame class the day before the Super Bowl. This year, six men were chosen for that honor including one, guard Randall McDaniel, who has ties to the Buccaneers.
McDaniel becomes the third player listed in the Buccaneers' section of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's team-by-team listing of enshrinees. However, as most Buccaneer fans know, defensive end Lee Roy Selmon is the only player in the Hall who was primarily a Buccaneer during his playing days. McDaniel spent the last two of his 14 NFL seasons in Tampa after starring for the Minnesota Vikings, and Hall-of-Fame quarterback Steve Young played his first two NFL campaigns with the Buccaneers before he was traded to San Francisco. Young had previously played in the USFL before joining the Bucs in 1985.
So when might a long-time Buc join Selmon in the Hall. Both Warren Sapp and John Lynch retired in 2008, meaning they will be eligible to be part of the 2013 class, and many consider those two to be good bets for eventual enshrinement. Sapp and Lynch were key figures in the Buccaneers' resurgence in the 1990s and the first few years of the 2000s, and of course enormous factors in the team's successful run to the championship in 2002. Both were also considered among the very best at their respective positions during their tenures in the league and both kept their play at an elite level for a long time.
Of course, both would first have to be among the 100 or so nominees that season, which seems very likely. Then they would have to make the cut to 25 semi-finalists in the fall of 2012 and then the cut to the 17 finalists before the last vote. Between four and seven league figures are inducted into the Hall every year, but usually only a couple make it in during their first year of eligibility. Among the 2008 inductees, for instance, only cornerback Darrell Green was in his first year of eligibility, and in 2007 only offensive lineman Bruce Matthews fit that bill. There were three such selections in 2006 (Troy Aikman, Warren Moon and Reggie White) but no more than two in any other year since 1993.
Other former Buccaneers who have made the list of nominees but not the cut to the semifinal group in recent years include quarterback Doug Williams and linebacker Hardy Nickerson.