There's a perception among Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans that the front office of the mid-1990s was genius, consistently drafting well and producing quality players every year. Unfortunately, it is a myth. People often forget that the front office that drafted Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks was the same front office that drafted Eric Curry and Trent Dilfer, having been in office since 1993. That's when Rich McKay became the Bucs' general manager, which he remained through the 2002 season.
McKay presided over several massive busts as well as many successes. Grabbing Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks in the first round in 1995 was a stroke of genius, and other successes like Donnie Abraham, John Lynch and Ronde Barber in the third round are often brought up when discussing those Bucs.
And yet, there were plenty disappointments, too. In fact two of the biggest busts of that era were drafted by that same front office: Eric Curry and Trent Dilfer, both drafted sixth overall in consecutive drafts. That front office couldn't build a decent receiving corps to save its life, despite spending some big money and draft picks on Alvin Harper, Keyshawn Johnson, Reidel Anthony, Bert Emanuel and Jacquez Green.
Just take a look at the list of first-round draft picks under Rich McKay and company, courtesy of Pro Football Reference.
|3||1997||1||12||Warrick Dunn||RB||TAM||1997||2008||0||3||10||95||181||154||0||0||0||0||0||2669||10967||49||510||4339||15||Florida St.|
|6||1996||1||22||Marcus Jones||DE||TAM||1996||2001||0||0||2||22||85||39||24.0||North Carolina|
|7||1995||1||12||Warren Sapp HOF||DT||TAM||1995||2007||4||7||13||117||198||188||4||39||2||4||96.5||Miami (FL)|
|8||1995||1||28||Derrick Brooks||LB||TAM||1995||2008||5||11||14||141||224||221||25||13.5||Florida St.|
|9||1994||1||6||Trent Dilfer||QB||TAM||1994||2007||0||1||7||52||130||113||58-55-0||1759||3172||20518||113||129||248||853||5||2||-6||0||Fresno St.|
Two Hall of Famers and a very good running back highlight this group. But the two massive busts in 1993 and 1994 don't help, while most other picks turned into decent starters -- but not much more than that. Anthony and Walker were disappointments, while McFarland was a pretty good defensive tackle. Marcus Jones never got past the point of being an okay pass-rush specialist, and Upshaw was traded after just three seasons with the Bucs for a seventh-round draft pick.
Time has a tendency to make a successful history seem grandiose. The Bucs' draft record through the 1990s was pretty good -- but it was far from genius, and they had plenty of busts and disappointments to go along with their successes. Keep that in mind when evaluating Mark Dominik's record -- or indeed, any general manager's record. Throughout the league, draft picks disappointment and turn into busts. Sometimes that's the result of poor evaluation -- but as often as not it's because of random chance, and the difference can be hard to notice from a distance.