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Going Over The 2004 Buccaneers Draft Choices

In 2004, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were coming off another average season. In the offseason, we traded Keyshawn Johnson for Joey Galloway, Keenan McCardell for scraps, released John Lynch and didn’t resign Warren Sapp. Then we went out in free agency and signed Todd Steussie, Charlie Garner, and Derrick Deese. It was the beginning of the end of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

1st Round

We came into the offseason with holes at QB, RB, WR, LT, LG, DT, and SLB. When we signed the Steussie, Gardner, and Deese, our draft needs turned into QB, WR, DT, and SLB. Considering we were picking 15th, we wouldn’t have an option of picking the best three QB’s in the draft. Many mock drafts had us picking Randy Starks, Vince Wilfork, or Steven Jackson. I wish they were true. Instead we decided to pick Michael Clayton.

When this draft happened, I was 12. Of course I was happy to get a starting WR. But when I look back on it, I laugh at how wrong I was. Michael Clayton’s draft numbers looked like this:

Rd Pck Pos F. Name L. Name Drafted Team College Conf. H W 40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd Bench Vertical Broad 20SS 3Cone
1 15 WR Michael Clayton Tampa Bay Buccaneers LSU SEC 75 209 4.60 2.69 1.60 32.5 116 4.15 6.79

He was agile but got off the line like an elephant. Yes, he was big, strong, and could catch the ball, but there was another option at WR. His name is Michael Jenkins, the same one that tortured us for a few years with the Atlanta Falcons. He was taller, bigger, could jump higher and farther, had a faster 40 time, but was not as agile. His numbers were even better than Claytons in college. It doesn’t make sense that Allen decided to pick Michael Clayton now.

We also had a choice to draft a few other people. With our needs being QB, WR, DT, and SLB, we had two other immediate choices. One was Marcus Tubbs and the other was Vince Wilfork. Both went on to have good careers.

In the second round, we drafted John Gruden. This was the last pick apart of his 2002 trade and was used on Jake Grove. He had a good career in Oakland starting at Center until 2009.

3rd Round

With our next pick, we decided to solidify our SLB. When we drafted Marquis Cooper, I had no idea who he was. Simply put, I didn’t care. Looking back on it, I can see why we picked him.

Rd Pck Pos F. Name L. Name Drafted Team College Conf. H W 40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd Bench Vertical Broad 20SS 3Cone
3 79 OLB Marquis Cooper Tampa Bay Buccaneers Washington Pac-12 75 223 4.55 2.66 1.58 25 36.5 121 4.14 7.02

He was tall and skinny, fast, and agile. He was a part of the PAC-10 All-Conference team in 2003 and looked the part. I probably would’ve picked him too. But the Bucs didn’t do our research as well as we should have. If there was a flaw for a linebacker, it would be about being too skinny. And at 6’3" 223, he was the size of John Lynch. A few picks later, Demorrio Williams was chosen by the Falcons with similar times across the board. Both of them were in the Top 3 in terms of speed for Linebackers that year. The difference was that Williams was 10 pounds heavier. He was built to last and did so.

Between this pick and our next one, there were countless players taken that turned out to be good players. Matt Schaub, Anthony Hargrove, Isaac Sopoaga, and Luke McCown would have fit our needs. Ironically, we all know Luke McCown decided to come here and play a few games.

4th Round

With our fourth round pick, we decided to go off of the need chart and more for what we wanted. Take it how you want, but we drafted Will Allen with the 111th pick. Considering there was no QB around, I understand the need to draft a FS. Especially after Jon Gruden just released one of our best safeties in history of the Buccaneers. Looking back at the numbers, this is what I found.

Rd Pck Pos F. Name L. Name Drafted Team College Conf. H W 40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd Bench Vertical Broad 20SS 3Cone
4 111 FS Will Allen Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ohio State Big Ten 73 202 4.58 36.0 115 4.25 7.06

His scouting numbers were average at best. He was one of the slowest safeties in the draft and wasn’t very agile. As I look at the pick, it felt like we were drafting for our special teams. And that’s exactly where he played most of his games.

When I see the players taken after him, I have to laugh. Jared Allen, one of the best sack artists in the league was taken 15 picks after this. With his size and agility, he would’ve been a great back-up to Simeon Rice since his contract was up in a year or two. Also, another DT was available in Antonio Smith. Undersized at 274 pounds with a quick first step, he would’ve helped anchor the line instead of using Darby. For a sleeper, Erik Coleman from the Jets was also available but I wouldn’t have picked him due to his scouting numbers being the worst for FS.

5th Round

In the 5th round, we decided to go with Jeb Terry. A guard coming out of North Carolina, he was one of the slowest guards coming out that year. His agility was terrible and his first step was slow. It would have been fine if he was a bruiser but he has the size of a zone-read guard.

Rd Pck Pos F. Name L. Name Drafted Team College Conf. H W 40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd Bench Vertical Broad 20SS 3Cone
5 146 G Jeb Terry Tampa Bay Buccaneers North Carolina ACC 77 313 5.20 3.07 1.82 27 29.0 105 5.00 8.04

The next guard taken after him was Rex Hadnot with the Dolphins. He had scouting numbers similar to the players taken in the first round while playing 10 pounds heavier than Terry. He had a great first year but like Terry, didn’t last long in the NFL. If you look for needs in the draft, you would be hard pressed to find someone this late in the draft. However, Michael Turner was picked 8 picks after Jeb Terry. He was the heaviest running back in the draft but had similar 10 yard sprint numbers to everyone taken before him. His agility was terrible but it wouldn’t matter if he could outrun them and use his strength. Which he has since 2004.

6th Round

In the 6th round, we decided to take a TE in Nate Lawrie. I feel like he could’ve been a FB and TE but his times were terrible. It makes me question what Allen and Gruden were doing in the latter rounds.

Rd Pck Pos F. Name L. Name Drafted Team College Conf. H W 40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd Bench Vertical Broad 20SS 3Cone
6 181 TE Nate Lawrie Tampa Bay Buccaneers Yale Ivy 78 264 4.87 23 34.0 117 4.12

After this pick, there weren’t that many players to draft. Some of the notable players were Andy Lee the punter from the 49ers, Jim Sorgi from the Colts, and that seems to be it. One of the later TE’s, Jeff Dugan did play well with the Vikings but at a strictly blocking TE.

7th Round

The last three picks of the draft came in the 7th round. We decided to draft another WR in Mark Jones, a FB in Casey Cramer, and a CB in Lenny Williams.

For Mark Jones, I can see why the Buccaneers drafted him. He was the fastest WR taken in the draft but also one of the shortest. I’m going to assume he was going to be our kick returner. What the Buccaneers didn’t see was that Patrick Crayton was still on the board. With a slightly slower 40, but well known for his good catches, he could’ve helped to be our 3rd option and kick returner.

With Casey Cramer, I feel like we were using the shotgun approach to finding the next A-Train. Instead, we found the next Jane. A few picks later, Derrick Ward was taken. He worked out well for the Giants but now with the Buccaneers a few years later.

Our last pick was probably a Hail Mary. Lenny Williams never played a game for the Buccaneers. All the players after him also suffered the same fate. Just before him, Scott Wells was drafted and had a very successful career as a center.

Conclusion

In the end, the 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s Draft was a total bust. Allen and Gruden ere so short sighted that quality picks escaped them. Once they stopped drafting for needs, I felt like they decided to draft anyone that came to mind. One for you, one for you, one for all of you! In the end, if they looked closer to the tape and the NFL Combine and NFL Pro Days, they could’ve picked up better quality.

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