By the end of the 2007 NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played well enough to get into the playoffs. Sadly, it ended in a Wild Card loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champions. The Buccaneers were defiant on defense with another Top 10 defense while being led by 34 year old Derrick Brooks. On the other hand, 37-year-old Jeff Garcia lead the offense out of the 2006 gutter to a 18th rank offense. With an offensive line that had four quality players under the age of 25, the Buccaneers were ready to have a powerful offense. They just needed a few more pieces to make it work.
In the offseason, we knew the Buccaneers were going to be busy in free agency. This is what the front office did:
They traded a 2008 6th round pick to the Bears for QB Brian Griese because Jeff Garcia was known for getting injured midseason, re-signed fan favorite Warrick Dunn to see what he could do, and signed C Jeff Faine to finish the retooling of the offensive line.
So going into the draft, the Buccaneers filled up most of the holes they needed to fill. They still had minor holes at CB and OL depth. If you look closely, you’d see that WR Joey Galloway, WR Ike Hilliard, LB Derrick Brooks, DT Chris Hovan, CB Ronde Barber, RB Warrick Dunn, and QB Jeff Garcia were all on the wrong side of 30 years old. The Buccaneers had a playoff caliber team, they just needed to draft players that could take over when the time comes.
What I didn’t realize is the Buccaneers came into the draft with only five draft selections. By the end of the night, they ended with seven selections and an extra 7th round pick in 2009.
With the 20th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas.
With a need for a #2 CB, this pick filled a hole for the Buccaneers. At 6’1", 202 pounds, Talib was unusually big for the kind of cornerbacks the Buccaneers had on defense for the past ten years. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He also had the speed, agility, and jumping capabilities to keep up with all types of wide receivers.
Coming out of Kansas, Talib had the stats to prove his worth. He was 1st in passes broken up and tied for 3rd in INTs compared to players taken after him. But when you compare his per game rankings, he was the best CB coming out of school in the 2008 draft.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: RB Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Ray Rice, WR Desean Jackson and Jordy Nelson, CB Mike Jenkins, CB Brandon Flowers, OT Duane Brown, and OLB Curtis Lofton.
Trade: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade the 52nd overall selection for the 58th overall selection, 158th overall selection, and a 2009 7th round draft pick.
With the 58th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Dexter Jackson, WR, Appalachian State.
Dexter Jackson was one of the fastest and more agile WR in the draft. But that’s where his praise ends. At 5’9" 182 pounds, his height and weight were a concern if he was to play as a slot receiver. His terrible vertical (0-10% percentile), showed that he had very little explosion and he would not be able to jump for balls.
While at Appalachian State, Jackson was known for his kick returns and scoring twice against Michigan onto the "THE GREATEST UPSET OF THEM ALL." He was able to turn it into a 2nd round selection, but his body of work at WR only matched his short stature. He had a knack for big plays but his per game rankings were 7th out of 9 WRs drafted after him who played in the NFL.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: RB Jamaal Charles, TE Martellus Bennett, CB Charles Godfrey, DT Kendall Langford, and CB Terrell Thomas.
With the 83rd pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jeremy Zuttah, C, Rutgers.
While at Rutgers, Jeremy Zuttah played as an offensive tackle but due to his height and weight, he was asked to be moved inside to play Guard and Center. Lucky for the Buccaneers, they got a quality player in Zuttah. He had the speed, strength, and agility to play each position but the only concern I had was with his vertical. It usually means that a player isn’t explosive with their first step. But as a center, it isn’t needed as much considering they know the snap count.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: WR Harry Douglas, TE Jermichael Finley, DE Cliff Avril, and FS Thomas DeCloud.
Trade: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade the 120th overall selection and 158th overall selection for the 115th overall selection and 175th overall selection
With the 115th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Dre Moore, DT, Maryland.
When I originally wrote this series, I called Dre Moore out on his questionable vertical and agility scores. While Moore had great speed for his size, those two scores jumped out at me. But what I now know is that he was coming off of knee surgery. However, that still doesn’t give the Bucs a free pass as they knew about the knee issue before hand.
If Moore came out in the 2007 NFL Draft, he would’ve been rated near a 2nd round pick. At least if you believe WalterFootball.com. However, he wasn’t the only player who deserved a shot to be drafted. He ranked 2nd in stats per game but with the knee injury, other players should’ve been taken into consideration.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: DE Red Bryant, G Josh Sitton, CB Brandon Carr, DT Letroy Guion, CB Zackary Bowman, and CB Orlando Scandrick.
Trade: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade the 153rd overall selection for the 160th overall selection and 238th overall selection
With the 160th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Josh Johnson, QB, San Diego.
Although he wasn’t the best QB in the draft, he was the most athletic and put up great passing numbers at San Diego with Jim Harbaugh.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: G Carl Nicks, WR Josh Morgan, OLB Erik Walden, and OT Barry Richardson.
With the 175th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Geno Hayes, OLB, Florida State.
Coming out of Florida State, Geno Hayes was the prototypical size of a 4-3 OLB. He was relatively fast but was lacking in explosion and change of direction. However, his stats may say otherwise.
His career was good at Florida State. Of the players chose after him, he was ranked in the top 3 in every statistic except for interceptions. On a per game basis, he was only second to Barrett Ruud’s little brother. But while taking each player’s physical traits into account, I would’ve chosen Hayes too.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: C John Sullivan, DT Ahtyba Rubin, OT King Dunlap, WR Pierre Garcon, RB Peyton Hillis, RB Justin Forsett, WR Chaz Schilens, WR Steve Johnson, and CB Cary Williams.
With the 238th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Cory Boyd, RB, South Carolina.
Although he was one of the last RB’s chosen in the draft, he had a quick first step and explosiveness. Other than that, he wasn’t very good in his change of direction. With relatively small risk, this pick was a decent one to see what he could do.
Notable 7th Round Picks: G Geoff Schwartz, G Mackenzy Bernadeau, SS Chris Horton, and OLB David Vobora
Notable UDFAs: C Brian De La Puente, OLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, OLB Wesley Woodyard, G Doug Legursky, DE Wallace Gilberry, C Fernando Velasco, OT Tyler Polumbus, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, SS Husain Abdullah, K Connor Barth, WR Danny Amendola, K Dan Carpenter, WR Davone Bess, CB Kyle Arrington, RB Danny Woodhead, OLB Danny Lansanah, DE Leger Douzable, KR Clifton Smith, and many more.
By the end of the draft, a lot of the "NFL analysts" gave the Buccaneers a B ranking due to the Talib and Zuttah pick-ups. For their careers, Talib has played stellar football, won a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos, but had some off-field issues. Dexter Jackson didn’t turn into a wide receiver, failed at being a returner, and only played seven games in the NFL. Jeremy Zuttah played well at guard and eventually center but was traded to the Ravens in 2014. Dre Moore never came back from his knee injury and only lasted 7 games in the NFL. Josh Johnson was relegated to a back-up role and lasted three seasons with the Buccaneers. Geno Hayes eventually took over for Derrick Brooks but never could fill his shows and wasn’t resigned after four seasons. Lastly, Cory Boyd never played for the Buccaneers. In the end, this draft and subsequent drafts doomed Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden due to their scattershot approach to drafting.
Special thanks to CBSSports.com, Pro-Football-Reference.com, and Sports-Reference.com for their help.