Mark Dominik spent the first two days of the NFL Draft sounding more like a doctor than the Tampa Buccaneers general manager.
No matter how you spin it, that is not a good way to begin the offseason’s most important week.
Dominik tried to sound reassuring. But explaining why medical ailments and injuries to the Bucs’ two top draft choices did not frighten him is a hard sell.
The act itself raises the anxiety level around One Buc Place.
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The first reaction we are listening to is of a desperate man trying to fix a woeful pass rush that had the Bucs 30th in the league last year with 26 sacks.
Dominik saw Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers with his nation-leading 15.5 sacks and believed he found an fix, though it’s far from immediate.
Bowers had right knee surgery for a torn meniscus in January. He missed two games in ’09 after straining the knee and had some weight issues. Add it all up, and his tumble down the draft from a once-projected first pick to 51st resembled the stock market crash.
Granted, the NFL Draft is littered with fool’s gold, and you roll the dice with every pick.
Ryan Leaf will vouch for that if he ever finds his sanity, and a lot of teams are still crying about passing over Tom Brady.
So, in many ways, this was Josh Freeman Appreciation Week for the Bucs. At least the quarterback issue is solved with him, and that’s one less embarrassment the Bucs have to worry about.
It must have left Dominik feeling a little more comfortable in explaining there is no reason to worry that the Bucs’ top pick, Adrian Clayborn (20th overall), has Erb’s palsy and Bowers’ damaged knee isn’t quite fixed yet.
“It’s something he (Clayborn) was born with. He has been playing with it his entire life. It’s nothing that gets worse. It’s not something we were concerned about at all as a medical staff,” Dominik said.
The GM won’t put a timetable on when Bowers will play, but he said he expects it to be this season -- if there is a season -- and that he didn’t anticipate him having additional surgery.
Both can play defensive end and fill a huge need for the Bucs, who prefer to pressure quarterbacks with the front four guys and put everyone else in pass coverage.
You can say desperation breeds false hope, but credit Dominik’s aggression, though perhaps spurred by fear.
In 2010, both of the Bucs’ two top picks, defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, wound up on injured reserve, and McCoy was a disappointment before he was hurt.
It seems as if we are riding a similar merry-go-round with Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris.
You don’t want to awaken ghosts of drafts past, but this franchise has had more than its share of busts with most them coming on the defensive line, particularly with defensive ends Keith McCants (fourth overall pick in 1990) and Eric Curry (sixth overall, ’93).
Dominik gambled and won last year with receiver Mike Williams in the fourth round and by claiming LeGarrette Blount off waivers. He is losing with Aquib Talib, a messy problem he inherited when he became GM and likely will dump.
You only have so many rolls of the dice before the numbers start turning against you.
Bowers has no character flaws, but Clayborn does not come baggage free. He allegedly punched a cab driver and copped a disorderly conduct plea. A woman was found guilty of stalking him, which raises some caution flags.
The NFL Draft is littered with busts starting with Heisman winners Andre Ware, Gino Torretta, Eric Crouch and Jason White, to mention a few, and No. 1 failed picks Alex Smith, Tim Couch, JaMarcus Russell, Terry Baker and Jeff George.
But then there are guys like undrafted Johnny Unitas, third-round pick Joe Montana, 27th pick Dan Marino and former Miami Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas, a fifth-round selection who made Jimmy Johnson look like a genius.
You just wished Dominik sounded a bit more reassuring.