Leading up to the draft, we'll be going over previous Buccaneers drafts to see how they helped or hindered the franchise. We're going to start with the draft of 2000.
At that point in time the Bucs had already established a core of players and were trying to add a few select pieces to take them over the hump and to the Super Bowl. They were coming off an NFC Championship berth where they stifled the Greatest Show on Turf in their own stadium, but still came up short as the offense couldn't put up more than 6 points in the losing effort. While their defense was performing at a very high level, the offense was struggling and desperately needed help. It's no surprise then that the Bucs acquired mostly offensive players in the draft that year.
First Round: With second-year player Shaun King entrenched as the starting quarterback, the first priority was to get him some receivers to throw the ball to. The Bucs seemed to be in prime position to do so as they had 2 first-round picks, one of them acquired from San Diego for a 1998 second-round pick. But instead of selecting a wide receiver in the draft, the Bucs decided to go with proven talent and traded their two first-round picks for troubled Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson.
What were the other options: While Keyshawn was hardly a model citizen in Tampa Bay, eventually being shipped out because he couldn't get along with Jon Gruden, he was still an important part of the offense for the 4 seasons he spent with Tampa Bay and helped the team win a Super Bowl. And while in any other draft he certainly would not have been worth two first-round picks, the simple truth is that he was still a better player than any other receiver to be selected in the 2000 NFL Draft. The only player to go to a Pro Bowl as a receiver from that draft was Laveranues Coles, who had a couple of productive seasons but wasn't the player Keyshawn was.
While there was plenty of defensive talent available in the first round, TE Bubba Franks, RB Shaun Alexander and QB Chad Pennington were the only standout offensive players realistically draftable at that point. None of them would have filled much of a need for the Bucs, although Pennington would've been a clear upgrade over Shaun King.
Second Round: The Bucs traded their fourth round pick to Carolina to move up 6 spots in the second round and select guard Cosey Coleman. Coleman didn't get on the field for most of his rookie year, but started all but one game over the next 4 years, including the Super Bowl. 4 years worth of starts may seem like a decent return, but Coleman's play was often subpar and he was let go after 5 years and played just 2 more years before retiring. Teams hope to get more out of their second-rounders than 4 years of starts, especially if they traded up for them. And they certainly hope for better play than Coleman displayed during his time in the league.
What were the other options: Several other interior linemen were available at that point, including C Brad Meester and OG Bobbie Williams who are still starting in the NFL today.
Third Round: Linebacker Nate Webster was the choice for the Bucs in the third round. He spent 4 years with the Bucs, getting 6 total starts. This was essentially a waste of a pick for the Bucs, but Webster late in his career did start 2 seasons for the Denver Broncos.
What were the other options: This draft was fairly talent poor and there were few players available at that point who would end up making a big impact on the field. Nevertheless, LB Na'il Diggs was selected by the Green Bay Packers just 8 picks later, and is still starting in the NFL to this day. Other linebackers selected in later rounds who ended up making a bigger impact in the NFL include Adalius Thomas(6th round), Dhani Jones(6th round), Clark Haggans (5th round) and Danny Clark(7th round).
Fifth Round: With their fourth round pick traded to the Carolina so they could trade up in the second round, we now come to the fifth round where the Bucs opted to go with TE James Whalen. We can be really simple with Whalen: he didn't even make it to the regular season for the Bucs, but did play for the Cowboys for 4 years. Whalen made no impact at all for the Bucs.
What were the other options: At TE, there really weren't any other worthy picks. Brian Jennings was selected in the 7th round and he's still in the league, but has never really done anything. There wasn't much talent left in the draft either. QB Marc Bulger, LB Adalius Thomas and K Neil Rackers were selected in the next round of the draft and would've been better choices.
Sixth Round: S David Gibson got the call here. He spent 4 seasons with the Bucs, but never earned a start and is another player who never made an impact. Of course, he's a sixth-rounder and guys selected that late aren't really expected to make much of an impact. Being with the team for 4 years is a decent accomplishment for a sixth-round pick.
What were the other options: Surprisingly, no DB selected after Gibson really played a bigger role in the NFL than he did. Some players at different positions made impacts, most notably Tom Brady who went 6 picks after the Bucs selected David Gibson. Like every other team in the NFL, the Bucs had misjudged Brady, but it's hard not to think about the possibilities had the Bucs selected the star quarterback. Instead, they would select a quarterback in the seventh round.
Seventh Round: That quarterback went by the name of Joe Hamilton, and couldn't come close to Brady's quality. He was active for all of 1 game throughout his career, spent time with the Frankfurt Galaxy and was cut after 2002. Another busts, but then he was a seventh-rounder and those really don't make a big impact very often
What were the other options: At quarterback, there were no viable options after Joe Hamilton. Of the people selected after Hamilton, only 7 players spent more than 3 years in the NFL and none of them made much of an impact. Rob Meier and Danny Clark are the only ones who are still in the NFL to this day.
Overall, the 2000 NFL Draft provided very little in terms of long-term building blocks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While Keyshawn Johnson and Cosey Coleman played a role in the Super Bowl win, neither stayed with the Bucs for more than a few years. This was one of many failed drafts the Bucs experienced from 1999 on.