The Buccaneers have talked about high-character players and team captains before, and they have selected them rather consistently in the past. Josh Freeman, Roy Miller, Gerald McCoy and Arrelious Benn are some of the team captains the Bucs have drafted in the past couple of years, but this year was different. Six of eight selected players were team captains, and only sixth-rounder Allen Bradford and late-seventh-rounder Daniel Hardy weren't. Adrian Clayborn, Da'Quan Bowers, Mason Foster, Luke Stocker, Ahmad Black, Anthony Gaitor: all team captains.
So what does being a team captain mean? Does it mean you're a good kid who won't get in trouble off the field? While that's the message that Mark Dominik has been preaching, that isn't the case at all. That's obvious if we look at a 2008 draft pick who was also a team captain in college: Aqib Talib. Talib has gotten into off-field trouble on numerous occasions, both in college and in the NFL. So much for team captains being high-character guys. But there's one thing no one will dispute about Aqib Talib: he's one heck of a football player, and he plays and practices hard.
That's what team captains do. Theyare the guys who set the pace on the team. They're the ones who lead the way in practice. They're the ones who, to speak with Jon Gruden, lead the team in effort. That's what a team captain is, and that's also why the Buccaneers need to draft those guys. Draft them because they'll always play hard, because they'll lead the team, because they know what it is to be dedicated to a craft. By focusing on those players the Bucs are building a team full of hard workers who love football and will get the most out of their talents. But that doesn't automatically mean they're building a team full of good guys who will be great off the field as well. After all, one of the best players in Bucs history was amazing on the field and was always going hard in practice, but he was hardly an angel off the field: Warren Sapp.
To be fair, none of the players this regime has drafted were character risks coming out of college, with the exception of Mike Williams. And the team insists it did a lot of research into his background and concluded he wasn't a bad kid, just someone who made a few bad decisions. So far they seem to be right on that. But their insistence that team captains are high-character guys are off-base.