Its coming up fast, and we cannot wait! For a team that is building through the draft, having the 3rd pick, and 3 of the top 50 best collegiate players, and 5 of the top 100, this years selection process is probably going to make or break this franchise for the next decade. Not to mention determine what will happen to Mark Dominik, Raheem Morris, and anyone else associated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While we look forward, its always prudent to take a look back. Have a gander at our greatest successes as well as a peek at the worst of the failures; and boy have we had both in Orange and Pewter, enough to fill a library.
Well, at the very least, fill one good blog post.
Keep in mind I realize that Hindsight has perfect 20/20 vision. No one knew some of yesteryears players would turn out to be Gems, or vice versa. Still its fun to see who was available with a busted pick.
So here we have it, for better or worse.
5 WORST DRAFTS IN TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS HISTORY-
Honorable Mention- 2002- Oh sure, how do you put down a draft that the first two rounds were used to get us the coach that Won us our first Superbowl?? Am I trying to say Jon Gruden had no part in that? Of course not. But the decision was made in 2001, not 2002. The Picks were given away, so what they were used for is really not going to count here. However, who else was picked in 2002? Marquise Walker (of "Get your ass in there Marquise" fame), Travis Stephens, John Stamper, and the immortal Tim Wansley of 2003 MNF Indianapolis Colts fame! Remember Pro Bowler Center Zach Quaccia? oh that was the alternate universe, sorry. Jermaine Phillips is the only pick from 2002 worth mentioning, but we cant just pretend the round 1&2 picks didnt give us Chucky.
#5- 1985- Ron Holmes was the number one pick for the Bucs in 1985, he was going to replace Lee Roy Selmon. He did, in the line up. Not the stat sheets. The second round pick was traded away for Steve DeBerg, and Ervin Randle in the 3rd round was the only player besides WR Phil Freeman in round 8 to get playing time. There was one starter choosen in the whole draft, in round 10 Place Kicker Donald Igwebike. Donald Kicker as Ray Perkins would call him, Or Iggy as everyone else did, went on to set records for the Bucs. But one player, a kicker, in a draft that was 12 rounds, does not a draft make. Oh Jerry Rice was taken 8 spots later.
#4- 2004- The Michael Clayton Draft, is how it should be known. For one year, it looked like a draft where the top pick was a steal. Of course we all know what has happened to Clayton since. What we dont know is what happened to the rest. Marquis Cooper (RIP) one year starter Will Allen, Jeb Terry, Nate Lawrie....all unknowns, and never to be knowns. About the only player besides Allen who got some time was Mark Jones who returned punts for a bit.
#3- 1984- The Throwin Samoan, Jack Thompson! Bucs traded their #1 pick in 1983 for the rights to #14 when they let Doug Williams go. Ron Heller was a servicable O-Lineman taken in the 4th round, and Linebacker Chris Washington played ok for sometime. But Fred Acorn, Michael Gunter, Jay Carroll, Fred Robinson, and Quarterback Blair Kiel- 12 rounds of worthless endevours only downstaged by the next two drafts! Oh Cincinnati would trade the Pick to New England who took WR Irving Fryar. Carl Banks, Bill Maas and WIlber Marshall were still on the board.
#2- 1983- Compounding the poor draft efforts of 1982, We traded away our 1983 first round pick so that we could move back into the late first round of 1982 so we could take Booker Reese. Reese was a total Bust who forgot his lessons as soon as he left the practice field and was cut in no time. The Bears were the recipients of that pick, and used it on Willie Gault. If your Keeping track, that would have been a receiving corp of Jerry Rice, Willy Gault, and Irving Fryar. Think Vinny would have turned out to be Vinny if we had those guys???? Randy Grimes was taken in the 2nd round and he became the Bucs center for the better part of the next decade. Jeremiah Castille was a servicable corner. Kelly Thomas, Tony Chickillo, Ken Kaplan, and Mark Witte fill out some of the "whos not who" in 83.
DRUM ROLL- #1 Worst Draft in Bucs HISTORY!!- 1986- BO Knows...not to come to Tampa! - Not that 1986 was a deep draft of talent, but Keith Byars or Will Worlford would have been better than nothing! Jackson was warned away by a still bitter Doug Williams, and warned the Bucs he would not play for them if drafted. To add to the misery were the 12 rounds of futility known as an NFL draft that would follow. Rod (Toast ) Jones, and Kevin Murphy would play on defense for a few years, nothing spectacular. Tommy Barnhardt was drafted as a punter but would not play for the Bucs until about a decade later, coming back around 96-98! Legendary names like Craig Swoope, JD Maarleveld, Ben Reed, Mark Drenth of Purdue round out the worst attempt at stocking an NFL Franchise ever in the history of Orange or Pewter.
THE 5 BEST DRAFTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Honorable Mention- 1981- much like the Best draft chosen, '81 features the top two picks being major impact players that won games for the Bucs on their own. Hugh Green in round 1 and James Wilder in round 2. Were it not for the fact Green was traded away 4 years later and Wilder would not really become a star until 1984 and that would only last for two years, This draft would rank higher. But the rest of the picks really amounted to nothing more than training camp fodder, and thus the Honorable Mention status.
#5- 1987 - Its hard to rank a draft this high that really didnt amount to much as far as any championships, or even winning seasons, but the '87 draft brought it a ton of talent that would remain for quite some time. Almost half of the late 80s and early 90s offense came in the form of this '87 draft. Round 1- Vinny Testeverde was a QB with limitless potential, but it wouldnt be until Bill Parcells and a trip to the NY Jets until anyone could get it out of the Ray Perkins ruined QB. Round 2- Ricky Reynolds was an anchor at Corner for the Bucs for 7 years. Round 2b- LB Winston Moss was a starting linebacker for half a decade. Round 3 Mark Carrier is the leading receiver in Bucs history to this date. He still owns the largest yardage game in Bucs records. Round 4b Ron Hall was a major receiving threat at Tight End, and later in round 4 Bruce Hill would come as the second WR in the draft. The entire Receiving corp of Carrier, Hill and Hall put together in one draft!
#4- 1996- Alas our heroes begin to arrive! But before Mike Alstott could be drafted in the 2nd round, Tony Dungy and Rich McKay would bring in some Defensive Line help in the form of DE Regan Upshaw (1st round) and DT Marcus Jones(2nd) who would play End anyways. After these three starters, CB Donnie Abraham was picked with the 3rd round selection, and became the 1st rookie to start for Monte Kiffin, and last until Tanard Jackson in 2007. Tackle Jason Odem came in round 4, and WR Nilo Silvan was a dangerous Sammy Stroughter like returner who brought back some in preseason, just enough to wet our whistles but nothing more. Out of 7 rounds, the first draft for Dungy was a very solid one.
#3- 1999- Following the release of popular Defensive stars like Hardy Nickerson and Brad Culpepper, the Bucs defense slipped from ranked 3rd to 9th. More help was needed, and DT Booger McFarland would line up next to Mr. Sapp for sometime before trying to replace him. Shawn King came in round 2 and had no idea he would be in the NFC Championship game the very same year, not to mention probably the most exciting Bucs game in history the next season (MNF Rams 38-35). Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson came next in round 4. The rest of the picks were uneventful, but the quality picked up was considerable, and 3/4 of the picks would help the Bucs win the SuperBowl.
#2- 1997- The first year in Pewter Uniforms, The Bucs brought in two of its greatest players ever; Ronde Barber in Round 3 and Warrick Dunn with their first pick! The Bucs had the 6th pick in the draft, but traded it to Seattle for the Seahawks 12th pick and 3rd round pick. The 'hawks got Walter Jones. Bucs took Dunn and with the 3rd pick got Barber! So Warrick Dunn and Ronde Barber for Walter Jones? Pretty good trade there Mr. McKay and Dungy! The O-line was beefed up too with 2nd round pick Jerry Wunch and 3rd rounder Frank Middleton. WR Reidel Anthony also came in the Bucs 1st round (we had two 1st round picks). For the defense, to go along with Barber was Alshermond Singlton, who left for the Cowboys but would come back in time for the Super Bowl! 6th round pick Al Harris never played a down for the Bucs, but went on to have a great career with the Packers and such. Funny how that star slipped past the Bucs defensive gurus Herman Edwards and Monte Kiffin! Patrick Hape was a nice backup tight end. In terms of sheer volume, this may be the best draft ever...however the two players that came next, are what make up....
..#1 BEST DRAFT IN TAMPA BAY BUCS HISTORY - 1995 NFL DRAFT! Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks both came to us in Round 1!! How did it happen?
The Eagles were hot on DE Mike Mamula. Warren Sapp was falling fast because of pre-draft reports of Marijuana use. The Bucs Traded their first round pick (#7) and 3rd round pick to the Eagles for their 1st round pick (#12) and TWO 2nd round picks, giving the Bucs 3 total 2nd round picks. The Bucs selected Warren Sapp at #12, but werent done yet! Getting down towards the bottom of the first round, someone else high on their draft board was still there, but they knew he would not last long. So the Bucs worked another trade. Two second round picks (46 and 59) for Dallas' late 1st round pick (28), and used it to take Florida State's undersized linebacker Derrick Brooks.
The Cowboys took Sherman Williams and Kendell Watkins.....for Derrick Freaking Brooks. And we got Warren Sapp for Mike Mamula. Sandwiched around Mamula, two 1st round picks that would end up playing for the Bucs on their 2007 NFC Southern Division championship team; #6 pick for St. Louis Rams Kevin Carter and #8 pick for Seattle Seahawks Joey Galloway. Two picks after the Cowboys took Sherman Williams in the 2nd round, the Colts would take our future Super Bowl Tight End Ken Dilger.
After all this madness, the rest of the 1995 draft was pretty uneventful. Melvin Johnson was a Safety who would help out over the next few years, and that was pretty much it. But the cornerstones for the franchise were set in the 1st round. The result of the aggressive trades were the 1999 and 2002 NFL defensive players of the year winners, and hopefully a couple of hall of famers all the same stage in Canton!