Shining bright: Bucs' Dominik a rising star in GM universe and NFL Network analysts recently were asked to pick the general manager we would choose to handle our draft.

Predictably, Ted Thompson of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers drew the most votes. Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bill Polian of the Indianapolis Colts and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots also were among the obvious choices mentioned.

Soon, however, that discussion is going to have a new name: Mark Dominik.

Dominik has emerged as one of the major rising stars among the NFL's player-personnel evaluators. The Buccaneers clearly acknowledged as much today by giving him a four-year contract extension.

Although he has spent 16 seasons with the Bucs, the 40-year-old Dominik is entering only his third as their GM. He has accomplished a great deal in the past two years, forming a dynamic duo of leadership with 34-year-old Raheem Morris, who is also entering his third season as head coach and figures to be getting a contract extension of his own sometime soon.

When Morris and Dominik were named to their respective jobs in January 2009, to replace former Bucs coach Jon Gruden and GM Bruce Allen, there was tremendous skepticism that the team would progress in such inexperienced hands. And, initially, it did, with a 3-13 finish.

However, thanks largely to Dominik's deft hand at identifying and drafting quality players -- including a franchise quarterback in Josh Freeman and a dominant defensive tackle in Gerald McCoy -- and signing solid free agents, the Bucs made a dramatic turnaround. With the NFL's youngest squad, they went 10-6 last season and just missed the playoffs.

It's reasonable to expect Tampa Bay will remain a force for many years to come. And Dominik is going to steadily make his way into the conversation of top-level general managers.

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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