Mark Dominik is aware of the Bucs' record since he took over as general manager in January 2009: 24-40. There are some other key figures worth noting: two coaches, six coordinators and no playoff appearances.

"My record is what it is," he said. "But I think our situation, in terms of where we started and where we're going, is completely different than when I took over. I'll like our team when we walk onto the field this year."

Quarterback Josh Freeman is the only player left on the roster from the Bucs' first draft under Dominik from a class of six. Because Freeman is in the final year of his contract and his future in Tampa Bay is as wobbly as a deflected pass, the entire class hinges on his success.

Dominik's draft history is checkered with a few other obvious failures. Defensive tackle Brian Price and receiver Arrelious Benn, second-rounders in 2010, no longer are with the team. Cornerback Myron Lewis, a third-round pick that year, has started only one game. With the exception of receiver Mike Williams, the Bucs have swung and missed in the fourth round.

But at worst, the record is mixed. Under Dominik, the Bucs also have netted two Pro Bowl players in defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and running back Doug Martin, an all-rookie defensive end in Adrian Clayborn, the leading tackler from the 2010 rookie class in linebacker Mason Foster, the club's leading tackler last season as a rookie in linebacker Lavonte David and a promising young safety in Mark Barron.

"I think Doug Martin was a rousing success and so is Mark Barron, and McCoy has been fine. And I like some of their other young players," said former Bills, Panthers and Colts general manager Bill Polian, an analyst for ESPN. "In the end, it all depends on Freeman and whether he can take the next step.

"If they have another good draft this time around and Freeman gets better, I think they're well on their way to being a contender."