Kenyatta Walker holds a Buccaneer jersey up for the first time
Old Coaching Mates Dueling over Moss? … More from Kenyatta Walker … First-round timing
What might the Buccaneers have done at pick number 21 in the first round, had their trade efforts to move upward not come to fruition?
Well, if it was up to Mr. Dungy, the Bucs would have leapt at the chance to get Miami WR Santana Moss.
Okay, not that Mr. Dungy. While Head Coach Tony Dungy will probably keep the Bucs' original plans under wraps, his youngest son Eric, wore his emotions on his sleeve all week.
According to the elder Dungy, Eric has been lobbying hard for Moss. Whether or not the Bucs were actually interested in the diminutive Hurricane playmaker, Coach Dungy doubted he would still be on the board at the 21st pick. The problem, in terms of inter-family relationships in the Dungy household, is that former Buccaneers' coach Herman Edwards might be the one to gum up the works. The Bucs believed – correctly, as it turns out – that Edwards, new Head Coach of the New York Jets, was very interested in Moss.
"I told Herm it would break Eric's heart if they got Moss before us," said Dungy with a laugh.
It all became a moot point, of course, when the Buccaneers swung their blockbuster deal with Buffalo to get into Walker territory. Edwards and the Jets also moved up minutes later to grab Moss, trading with Pittsburgh to jump from 19th to 16th.
That move indicates that Moss was a hot commodity in the mid part of the opening round, despite his relative lack of size (5-9.5, 185 pounds). In discussing Edwards' new weapon, Dungy admitted his stature was an issue, but felt his play-making abilities would make him a quality professional, a la Warrick Dunn.
"He's played in big games and he's always stood out," said Dungy.
Kenyatta Walker was in New York when he found out he was headed to Tampa. As one of the consensus top players available, Walker was at draft headquarters in Madison Square Garden for the proceedings. When the Buccaneers made him the 14th player taken overall, Walker stepped to the main draft podium and held the Buccaneers' jersey aloft.
Meanwhile, Buccaneer officials Rich McKay and Tony Dungy were describing Walker's finer points to the assembled media at One Buccaneers Place.
Roughly 30 minutes later, the two sides came together when Walker called to speak to the Tampa Bay press for the first time. Some of the highlights of the interview:
On dropping to the 14th spot: "Yeah, I was a little surprised but just like on Sunday anything can happen. Today anything happened. When I really got worried I was on the podium shaking the commissioner's hand. So it really worked out fine."
On something to prove after dropping: "I was going to have something to prove anyway just by being a high draft pick. Right now being a rookie, you have something to prove regardless and I just want to prove something to the team that picked me, to show everybody on their staff they were right, that I am a great player and to be in Tampa Bay for a very long time."
On his combine interview with Tony Dungy and Rich McKay: "I felt very comfortable. I felt they were very satisfied and happy. It showed that they saw what they liked by coming to get me and if you think about it, maybe they could have waited for the 21st pick, I might have still been there. So you never know. I just feel real good right now."
On the emotions of the draft: "I feel like I can breathe again, I can finally relax. I know the type of schedule I'm going to be on and my team and now this is when the hard work is going to start. It's time to get in shape and be ready for the NFL."
On comparing himself to Texas OT Leonard Davis: "I think we are two different players. He's the bigger, stout type of guy and I'm more of the athletic type of guy. Still Leonard is a great player and I tip my hat to him. But if you look at me and him we are two different type of players that came out of two different systems. He's a great player."
On his upcoming contract negotiations: "It's very important for me to get in there and get it settled. I need to get in there and get the playbook and learn how they run things. Me being in Florida is a positive thing, just being right down the street in Gainesville and knowing Florida I feel like I'm basically going back home."
Baltimore concluded the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft by selecting Arizona State TE Todd Heap. It was 4:32 p.m. EDT at the time.
Earlier, Atlanta had gone on the clock at 12:14 p.m. EDT and quickly used the first pick to select Virginia Tech QB Todd Heap. That means the first round took a total of four hours and 18 minutes to complete.
Despite a number of trades, this year's first round was a model of efficiency compared to last spring. The 2000 NFL Draft needed five hours and 30 minutes to complete the first round, more than an hour longer than 2001.