Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Draft Weekend Looms

The Buccaneers will try to keep their recent string of draft success alive on April 26-27, and Buccaneers.com Draft Central will get you as close to the action as possible

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Picking Derrick Brooks in the first round in 1995 has helped point the Bucs in the right direction, and they've excelled on draft weekend ever since

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' draft 'war room' will have a different feel to it in 2003, carved as it has been from the spacious team meeting area that was just constructed last spring. The long table upon which Rich McKay, Jon Gruden and the rest of the team's personnel decision-makers rest their elbows used to take up 75% of the war room; now there's room to kick back and spread out, maybe pace a little bit.

Hoots of triumph or moans of disappointment will echo a bit more.

Still, for all this change of scenery the Bucs' war room has only moved about 100 feet from its previous location. Hopefully, the team's draft magic made the short trip, as well.

McKay and company will still have all the draft boards and resources that have helped them put together a string of memorable drafts since 1995. One wall will show all of the players graded by the team, on a scale from 1.0 to 8.0, separated by position and marked with numerous other indicators. Another will have each team's roster and a list of what is believed to be their primary needs. Another will be used to track the draft, player by player. Yet another will hold a changing list of names the Bucs are targeting as potential post-draft free agents.

The walls will represent nearly a year's worth of hard work by scouts around the country and at One Buc Place, tracking thousands of young men as they thrived or stumbled in the college ranks. The men in the middle will use that information to make on-the-clock decisions that will affect the Buccaneers for years to come.

The track record is good.

Since 1995, McKay's first season as general manager, the Bucs have made 23 selections in rounds one through three. Not only did all 23 of those players make the team, but 20 became starters for the team at some point (counting kickers as starters). The other three – LB Nate Webster, CB Dwight Smith and WR Marquise Walker – could still make it 23 of 23. Only a few of those players were short-term starters – S Melvin Johnson, WR Reidel Anthony, WR Jacquez Green – while many are still cornerstone players for the team – DT Warren Sapp, LB Derrick Brooks, FB Mike Alstott, CB Ronde Barber, CB Brian Kelly, DT Anthony McFarland, K Martin Gramatica, T Kenyatta Walker.

The Bucs have had second-day success during that span, as well. LB Alshermond Singleton was a fourth-rounder, TE Patrick Hape came in the fifth, DE Ellis Wyms cost a sixth-round pick and CB Tim Wansley was a seventh-round selection.

McKay, Gruden and the rest will be put to the test again on April 26 and 27, during the two-day, seven round 2003 NFL Draft. Rounds one through three, as usual, will be conducted on Saturday, with the remainder finished up on Sunday. Tampa Bay currently holds six picks in the draft, their own selection at the end of each of rounds two through six plus a compensatory pick at the end of round four.

The Bucs' brain trust will gather sometime Saturday morning – McKay usually participates in the team's popular 'Draft Day Dash' 5K run – and Cincinnati will go on the clock at approximately 12:00 p.m. The personnel men will be watching from their spacious new war room.

Here in Buccaneers.com Draft Central, will get you as close as you can be to that nerve central. On draft weekend – April 26 and 27, we'll follow the selection process pick-by-pick, reveal the Bucs' choices as soon as they are official, provide information on the newest Buccaneers, cover every press conference live on video and conduct exclusive video interviews with officials direct from the war room.

In the meantime, visit this section for a pre-draft look at the Bucs' needs and pick tendencies, position by position, as well as any breaking draft news. You can vote in fan polls, check out the team's draft history and use the draft tracker to follow any traded picks around the NFL. Then join us on Saturday, April 26, when the Bucs go on the clock.

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