None of the candidates who interviewed for the Dolphins general manager position has more experience scouting college players than Dennis Hickey, who took the job after two others turned it down and at least four others declined interviews.
Though he never made the final call on draft day, Hickey was very much involved in the Buccaneers’ draft decisions, particularly over the past nine of his 18 years with the team — six as director of college scouting (2005-2010) and the past three as director of player personnel.
How much say did Hickey have in draft selections?
“Fairly significant,” said Mark Dominik, who was Tampa Bay’s general manager from 2009 until his firing at the end of this season. “Dennis got me educated on players.”
Dominik on Monday praised Hickey’s ability as a talent evaluator, and the Buccaneers had some hits in the NFL Draft during the nine seasons when Hickey was a key piece of the front office.
But like all teams, they also had some key misses, including four second-round picks that didn’t meet expectations.
“The record isn’t what we wanted,” Dominik said of the 28-52 mark in his five years as GM. “But we were doing something right in the players we drafted and signed.”
A look at those nine drafts that Hickey was closely involved with, the first four under former GM Bruce Allen and the past five under Dominik:• 2005: Running back Carnell Williams, picked fifth overall, was a disappointment (3.8 average in seven seasons), with Adam Jones, Antrel Rolle and DeMarcus Ware among those chosen shortly after. But linebacker Barrett Rudd, selected 36th, became a quality starter.
• 2006: Davin Joseph (23) and Jeremy Trueblood (59) became solid pieces on the offensive line. Third-round receiver Maurice Stovall had just 52 career catches.
• 2007: Defensive end Gaines Adams, taken fourth overall, didn’t quite fulfill expectations, was traded to Chicago for a second-rounder and died in 2010 from a heart condition.
The Buccaneers also took guard Arron Sears (35), who was very good for two seasons before developing a neurological condition that ended his career; selected a four-year starting safety in Tanard Jackson (106); and over-drafted journeyman safety Sabby Piscitelli at 64.• 2008: Talented Aqib Talib (picked 20th) had 17 interceptions in his first four seasons before being traded to New England. Receiver Dexter Jackson (58th) was out of the league within two years, but center Jeremy Zuttah (83rd) has been a decent starter.
• 2009: Quarterback Josh Freeman, picked 17th, made the Pro Bowl in his second season before a sharp decline in performance led to his release this past October. Defensive tackle Roy Miller, picked 83rd, started for Jacksonville this season. Only one of the Buccaneers’ other four picks (E.J. Biggers) is still in the league.
• 2010: Gerald McCoy (picked third) has become a Pro Bowl defensive tackle, but the 35th pick (UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price) — chosen one spot before Chiefs running back/Pro Bowl punt returner Dexter McCluster — is out of the league. Receiver Arrelious Benn, picked 39th (three spots before Rob Gronkowski), disappointed and was traded to Philadelphia last year. But receivers Mike Williams (101) and linebacker Dekoda Watson (217) were good value picks.
• 2011: Tampa made prudent selections at No. 20 with Adrian Clayborn (13 sacks in 35 games) and at 84 with linebacker Mason Foster (92 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions this season). But Da’Quan Bowers, picked 51st, has faded (one sack this season) after showing flashes early on.
• 2012: Dominik gives Hickey some of the credit for a draft that yielded three players that made the All-rookie team: safety Mark Barron (No. 7), running back Doug Martin (No. 31) and linebacker Lavonte David, the 58th pick, who has blossomed into a standout (144 tackles, six sacks, five interceptions this season).
• 2013: Tampa Bay didn’t have a first-round pick. Cornerback Johnthan Banks (chosen 43rd) had three interceptions in a backup role. Dominik said Hickey was on board with the smart selections of quarterback Mike Glennon at No. 73 and former UM running back Mike James at 189.
ESPN reported that new Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht planned to evaluate Hickey before deciding whether to keep him.
Patriots personnel director Nick Caserio declined to comment about the Dolphins’ assertion that he wanted the job but did not take it because the Dolphins would not allow him to “clean house” and immediately fire coach Joe Philbin.
ProFootballTalk.com reported that Caserio likes Philbin and planned to keep him, but the Dolphins dispute that.
The Dolphins also said that Tennessee Titans player personnel director Lake Dawson was willing to retain Philbin but insisted on having the right to dismiss him after the season. ESPN reported that Dawson did not ask for that authority, and Dawson did not offer clarity Monday.