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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Countdown Ends

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ most anticipated draft in years has arrived, and you can follow all of the action in the Draft Central section on


Many mock draft enthusiasts expect the draft to begin with Utah QB Alex Smith

On the front wall of the team meeting room at One Buccaneer Place there is hung a large, digital clock that is always in the process of a countdown. Each week during the 2004 season, it would display the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' next kickoff.

That meeting room has since been transformed into the Bucs' draft room, the nerve center from which the team's selections will be decided this weekend. For the last few months, that clock on the front wall has had a new task, displaying the time left until the 2005 NFL Draft, the remaining days and hours for the Buccaneers to finalize their scouting and their strategies.

On Saturday, the clock will hit zero.

This weekend, months of careful planning give way to furious minutes of action. At some moment not long after the numbers on the front wall have ceased their countdown, the Buccaneers will be on a much more significant clock.

The draft is here.

This is easily the most anticipated Buccaneer draft of the new millennium. The team's World Championship is over two years in the rear view mirror, and many of the principles of that run have moved on. The Bucs, 12-20 over the two seasons since Super Bowl XXXVII, have acknowledged the need to replenish their roster, and they have the means to do so, owning 12 picks in this year's seven rounds.

Mock drafts have predicted a couple possible options for the Buccaneers with the fifth overall pick in the first round. One of the Auburn running backs, perhaps, or another stud receiver to match up with Michael Clayton, or even a quarterback.

There really is no way to tell if any of those predictions are close to the Bucs' actual strategy. Be sure, however, that there is a very defined strategy. Franchise architects are determined to make this draft count, and in a few short hours, the rest of us will see how they plan to do that.

If you are looking for a way to follow all of the Buccaneers' draft action this weekend, you're in the right place. The special Draft Central section on will provide around-the-clock coverage from team headquarters. Here are some of the features you will find in Draft Central over the weekend:

  • Timely News Updates: After each Tampa Bay selection, will provide details on the newest Buccaneer mere minutes after the selection. Any other newsworthy events, such as trades involving the team or other player transactions, will be reported, as well. * Live Press Conference Coverage: Any time General Manager Bruce Allen, Head Coach Jon Gruden or other representatives from the Bucs' draft room address the media over the weekend, will broadcast the press conference live in its entirety. A recording of the same press conference will later be made available for additional viewing. Users will find links to the live press conferences on the home page and in Draft Central. * Exclusive Scout Interviews: In addition to the full-media press conferences, will provide recorded interviews with the scouts responsible for evaluating the players selected by Tampa Bay on Saturday. These interviews will be available only on * Draft Tracker: You won't miss a single pick as you browse the site for, as Draft Central will also post every pick as it is made. See who just got drafted or review an entire round after it is over. * Draft Blog: Beginning at 11:00 a.m., Draft Central will run a blog from team headquarters with any pertinent information regarding the draft. Come to this page for quick bits of news and observations from the Bucs' nerve center. * Twenty Questions, the Draft Contest: It's not too late to enter this easy and exciting contest in Draft Central. You simply answer 20 questions with your predictions about the draft, using pulldown lists, and submit. The entrant who gets the most questions right will win a valuable package of 2005 Buccaneer game tickets. Entries will be accepted until 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 23. * Fan Polls and Message Board: Want to express your opinions as to who the Buccaneers did and did not select? Here are two interactive ways to do so. * Buccaneers Draft History: Review any of the team's previous 29 drafts. * links: The league's web site has extensive information regarding the draft and its prospects, posted by an impressive array of experts. Check out their analysis through these links.

The draft is about to begin and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers definitely have a plan. Make part of your plan for following the 2005 NFL Draft.

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