Get in your DeLorean and go back to 2000 when the Bucs decided to trade two first rounders for Keyshawn Johnson. In the present, I don't see a deal in which the Bucs would trade two first rounders for any wide receiver. Let's say the Bucs owned the 13th and 27th picks for the 2008 draft. Would you have given them both up for T.O.? For Randy Moss? For Antonio Gates? Probably not. What you would see is a combination of second and a fourth or a second this year and a first next year. Yet, we gave up two first rounders for Keyshawn. What if we kept those picks and didn't trade Keyshawn. Let's go back to 2000.
With the 13th and 27th picks from the Bucs, the Jets took DE John Abraham and TE Anthony Becht. When healthy, Abraham is one of the better DE's in the business. Imagine the damage he could have done lined up with Warren. Abraham would have been a substantial upgrade over Steve White. Also, remember that this season Brett Culpepper was still playing well and Booger (in his second year) was our primary DT sub. I would stick with this pick.
Before re-drafting the 27th player, let's look at the entire Bucs draft from 2000.
2nd Rd - Cosey Coleman, G Tennessee
3rd Rd - Nate Webster, LB Miami (FL)
4th Rd - No Pick
5th Rd - James Whalen, TE, Kentucky
6th Rd - Dave Gibson, DB, USC
7th Rd - Joe Hamilton, QB Georgia Tech
Cosey was never a great guard, Nate Webster didn't start for more than a handful of games before bolting to Cincinnati. James Whalen was hyped but failed to live up to expectations. I don't remember Dave Gibson. Joe Hamilton was a pre-season hero, but wound up going to the Arena league.
Now, to the 27th pick. This is a tough choice. The Bucs need a wide receiver and depth for their offensive line. But, two of best players available are Rob Morris and Keith Bullock. Both were great college linebackers who played in the middle.
1999 was Hardy's last season and his replacement was Jamie Duncan. Duncan was okay, but imagine how could Keith Bullock would have been if lined up with a younger Shelton and Derrick Brooks. I know drafting more defense to an already stacked defense may not seem like the best choice, but let's be honest. We still couldn't score with Keyshawn. Adding Abraham and Bullock would have been devastating. Even if they didn't start, their impact in the rotation would have improved the overall quality of the defense. New York's victory shows how defensive depth is essential. Also, Rob Morris would be an interesting pick. He did a great job running the Tampa-Two in Indianapolis.
Oh, and instead of drafting Cosey Coleman, how about a little receiver out of Florida State named Laveranues Coles. The Jets grabbed him in the third round. Coles and Green would have been a small, but potent tandem.
So now our draft for 2000 is
1st - John Abraham, Keith Bullock
2nd - Laveranues Coles
Here is how I would finish the draft.
3rd - Dante Hall, RB from Texas A&M. Originally selected in the 5th round by Kansas City.
4th - No Pick
5th - Tom Brady, QB, Michigan
6th - Mike Anderson, RB Utah
7th - ? Anyone have a great undrafted free agent.
Obviously hindsight makes all things better, but imagine a Bucs team in 2000 with a younger, faster defense. An amazing punt and kick return specialist and one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game waiting in the wings. There is no guaranteeing that Tom Brady would have become Tom Brady without being in New England, but its not like he was surrounded my amazing offensive talent in Boston.
Let's take this a step further. So with this defense, let's say the Bucs signed Simeon Rice after this season. So now our defensive line has Abraham, Rice Booger and Sapp.
What about the 2001 draft?
Let's forget about Kenyatta Walker and draft Santa Moss in the 1st.. Now Brady's options are Moss, Coles and Green. This is a fast, elusive receiving corp.
3rd - Stick with Dwight Smith
4th - Ryan Diem, G. Indianapolis took him one pick after us. We drafted John Howell.
I'll stick with the rest of the Bucs draft where we got Ellis Wyms and Jameel Cook.
So instead of Coleman, we have Diem starting. The Bucs are still in need of a LT, but that is something Kenyatta could not deliver on.
What about 2002? Let's say the Bucs kept Tony and didn't trade for Gruden.
Now with the 21st and 53rd picks in 2002, the Bucs take.
21st - LeCharles Bentley, Center, Ohio State. This pick was tough because Ed Reed is on the board. I would snatch up Ed Reed in a heart beat, but adding a quality Center would have been a priority.
53rd - Sheldon Brown, CB, South Carolina. More depth in the secondary is never a bad thing. If we were still having WR problems, Deion Branch?
2003 is tough because we won the Superbowl. Even if the Bucs' didn't win it all in 2002, let's stick with the same picks for to prove that even with the last pick in the first, we can get great talent.
32nd - Eric Steinback, G, Iowa. This gives the Bucs one of the best young interior offensive lines in the league.
With the last pick in the second round, instead of D.White, let's take Jason Witten, TE, Tennessee.
So, to recap.
If we kept Tony and didn't trade for Keyshawn. The Bucs could have picked up three to four pro bowlers. Were Keyshawn and Gruden worth that?