TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers believe they are well on their way to assembling a team with all the necessary components to be successful.
First-year coach Greg Schiano wants a tough, physical team that thrives on stingy defense and running the ball. He’s confident the selection of Alabama safety Mark Barron, Boise State running back Doug Martin and Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David on the first two nights of the NFL draft will help the Bucs become that — and more.
Barron was part of a college program that won two of the past three national championships, and Martin was a two-time 1,200-yard rusher and ran for 43 touchdowns in one of the nation’s most prolific offenses. Both were team captains, which made them even more attractive to Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik in the first round.
David was selected in the second round — No. 58 overall — Friday after the Bucs pulled off their third trade since the start of the draft to move up from the third round to try to improve on the league’s worst defenses.
“We want guys who love football,” Schiano said, adding that Barron, Martin and David are productive players with great work ethic who lead by example.
“It’s in their bones. You’re not a leader if you don’t love the game. You don’t work harder than anybody else if you don’t love the game you’re playing. Those are the kind of guys you’re looking for.”
Dominik engineered a pair of trades during the first round, moving down two spots to take Barron at No. 7 and giving up Tampa Bay’s second-round pick and swapping fourth-rounders with Denver for opportunity to move up into the tail end of the opening round to select Martin No. 31 overall.
To get David, who played two years at Nebraska after transferring from Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, the Bucs moved up to the second round in a deal that sent the team’s third- and fourth-round selections to Houston. The Bucs also received a seventh-rounder from the Texans.
The 6-foot, 233-pound David was credited with 285 tackles in his two seasons at Nebraska, where he also forced three fumbles and had three interceptions.
David grew up in Miami and is happy to be returning to his home state. Like Barron and Martin, he will be expected to move into the starting lineup right away.
“I’m excited,” David, who made 27 starts at weak-side linebacker at Nebraska, said. “I’ve been playing football my whole life. I’m very passionate about it.”
Dominik called him an “ultra-productive” player who’s a “really good fit for what we want to do.”
“We really got better in the last 24 hours,” the coach said. “These three players are clutch players. … You turn on the film, and these guys are making plays when they need to be made.”
Barron was an All-American last season and joined George Teague as the only the safeties in Alabama’s long, storied history to enter the NFL as a first-round draft pick. The Crimson Tide led the nation in total defense, as well as scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense en route to winning the national title last season.
“I think the strength of my game is I’m very versatile and can do a lot of things,” said the 6-2, 213-pound Barron, who embraces the high expectations the Bucs have for him.
“Coming from the program I come from, it’s kind of just the mind-set that I have. You want to be the best at everything we do,” the native of Mobile, Ala., said. “Every day we go out to practice (at Alabama), we’re just working at being the best. … I think that’ll make it an easy transition for me to come in and have a great impact.”
Martin rushed for 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns at Boise State last season. The Bucs say he’s also a good blocker and has good enough receiving skills that he can be the every-down back the team has lacked for years.
LeGarrette Blount has been an effective runner the past two seasons, however fumbling has been an issue and the third-year pro has struggled to handle pass protection schemes and other responsibilities in the passing game.
The Bucs are hoping Martin and Blount will form a productive, punishing tandem.
“I don’t think you can do it with one back. You need two, and these guys will work together,” Schiano said. “Competition is great for everybody.”
Martin is ready to fill whatever role the Bucs want him to play.
“I feel like I’ll fit in very well,” Martin said. “I’m a very good team player. Never had issues with teammates. I feel like I’m going to fit pretty good.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.