Rich McKay believes the Falcons' move up to get Vick took 'guts'
Roughly 15 minutes after noon, the 2001 NFL Draft kicked off when the Atlanta Falcons selected Virginia Tech QB Michael Vick.
The pick, of course, was no surprise, but Atlanta's Friday night trade to get in position for it was startling news. Would it be a harbinger of an active draft day, with teams sliding up and down on Saturday?
That remains to be seen, but Rich McKay, the Buccaneers' General Manager, believes that is one possible outcome. He spoke with Buccaneers.com live on Saturday morning, just minutes before heading into the war room. Among the final thoughts he shared with Buccaneers.com users was that Tampa Bay is fairly unlikely to trade up from the 21st pick.
"We haven't locked out anything (in terms of strategy)," said McKay. "Moving up in this type of draft, in any type of draft, is not as easily done as it may appear. Teams get honed in a particular player, and when they do, the price they charge you to move up is too much. It costs you too many picks, too many good players, and in this instance we've got 10 picks and we're happy to have them."
Obviously, the price of acquiring Vick wasn't too high for the Falcons, who surrendered a third-round pick this year, a second-round selection in 2002 and WR Tim Dwight. It was a move that shook the draft board, but apparently didn't affect the Bucs' planning. McKay did appreciate Atlanta's hubris.
"It doesn't alter our strategy whatsoever," said McKay. "Surprised? Yes, I was surprised. I did not anticipate Atlanta going up to get Vick. But that's a big trade in the sense that that's one of those commitments by a franchise that can be a franchise-changing trade. It can really hurt or really help you. It takes a little guts, it takes a little planning. They did a nice job of not allowing anybody to know that was their plan because if people had figured that out I think the price would have gone up."
And, be sure that the Buccaneers do have a strategy. Several times in recent seasons, the draft has developed almost exactly as McKay's crew had anticipated, as in 1996 when the Buccaneers netted Regan Upshaw and Marcus Jones in the first round.
"We are prepared," said McKay. "It's the same way every year. You try to make today a non-event from a decision-making standpoint. You try to make all your decisions during the week, try to have a list of all the trades you'd potentially take, the players you'd take and you try to make this one of those days where they just come off the board.
"Now, that doesn't always happen that way, but that's what you try to do."
Could the strategy include a trade down, something the Buccaneers employed in 1998 when they moved out of the first round but still grabbed two of their targeted players in Jacquez Green and Brian Kelly? McKay did not rule it out.
"This is a pretty good draft in the sense that, once you get past the first four or five players, it's very even, probably throughout the entire first round," he said. "That either means there's going to be a lot of movement, where teams aren't married to players and they're willing to move down, or there will be no movement because you kind of feel, 'Hey, I'm going to get the same type of player at my pick. I don't need to move.'
"So it will be an interesting day. I think there will be a lot of 15-minute time frames. I think teams will take a whole allotment of time and that means we won't pick until late."