Yesterday, we pointed out that Lavonte David was one of the eventual 2012 Buccaneer draft picks who fared well in his on-field work at last year’s Scouting Combine. David turned in the seventh-fastest time among the linebackers in the 40-yard dash, but those 4.65 seconds weren’t nearly as important as the 15 minutes he spent with the Buccaneers the night before.
Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik says it every year: The most useful part of the week in Indianapolis is the sit-down interviews the team conducts with 60 or so prospects during the evenings. There is plenty of game tape available to assess a player’s athletic talents, and the 40-yard dashes will be repeated at his college’s Pro Day anyway. There are only limited opportunities, however, to try to get a glimpse inside a player’s mind.
The Combine interviews are capped at 15 minutes each so that players have a chance to meet with multiple teams. That’s not much time, but Tampa Bay’s brass has found a way to make the most of it. Dominik says his crew conducts those formal interviews in a way that is “a little different” than how most of the other teams do it. And, last year, Lavonte David absolutely nailed his interview with the Buccaneers.
“You only have 15 minutes, and there are certain things we try to do in those interviews that maybe not all 31 other clubs do,” said Dominik. “I would say this – the thing that really stood out for us, another check-the-box [moment] of importance in terms of our draft selection was [David’s] intelligence.
“It really showed up in what we do and how we evaluate players in those 15 minutes. It showed that Lavonte David had a really good feeling and understanding of the fundamentals of football. The different calls, the different checks, why he did X, why he did Y…the different things he did on the football field continued to make us feel [good about him]. Here we’ve got a guy we know can tackle, he’s great in coverage – we saw that at the Senior Bowl – and now the intelligence matches up to the character of the young man. All those things continued to move Lavonte David up our draft board.”
In the end, the Buccaneers had to move up the actual draft board in order to get David. A trade up into the bottom of the first round to select running back Doug Martin left the team without a second-round pick on Day Two of the draft, but Dominik eventually engineered a deal with Houston that allowed him to take David at #58 overall. David went on to prove the Bucs’ scouting report right, not only leading the team in tackles and tackles for loss but also assuming much of the defensive play-calling duties. It was 15 minutes in Indy that made the Bucs believe he could do just that.