After the 2008 NFL draft, fans thought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were good enough to make the playoffs again and hopefully win the Super Bowl. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. When Jeff Garcia got injured in the first game of the season, many fans lost hope until Brian Griese led the team to three straight wins. Then he was replaced by Garcia and the Buccaneers offense sputtered like it had most of the 2000s.
Even with the help of Warrick Dunn, Earnest Graham, and Carnell Williams, the running game never formed. Luckily, WR Antonio Bryant turned into gold and carried the offense. The defense on the other hand was its normal turnover happy self. They had some concern against the running game and rushing the quarterback but nothing too serious. But by the end of the 2008 season, the Glazers felt the need to change things up.
They fired Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden due to their bad drafts and questionable calls and went on a search for the next head coach. It only lasted one day as newly assigned defensive coordinator Raheem Morris took over the reins of the Buccaneers and Mark Dominik was promoted to GM. By doing so, the Glazers created what turned out to be one of the biggest offseason of acquisitions and releases in Buccaneer history.
The list of players includes: QB Jeff Garcia, QB Brian Griese, RB Warrick Dunn, WR Joey Galloway, WR Ike Hilliard, DT Jovan Haye, OLB Cato June, OLB Derrick Brooks, and CB Philip Buchanon. By themselves, they started more games in the NFL than most of the rest of the team. It was terrible to see Buccaneers legend Derrick Brooks be released so impersonally, but with a young regime coming in, they wanted to focus on being "Youngry".
Before Free Agency, the Bucs acquired TE Kellen Winslow Jr. from the Cleveland Browns for a 2009 2nd round pick and 2010 5th round pick. TE Alex Smith never developed into a starter and there were rumors the Buccaneers were looking into quarterbacks. They also signed RB Derrick Ward and QB Byron Leftwich to fight for starting jobs and K Mike Nugent due to Matt Bryant’s injury concerns. The Buccaneers resigned OT Donald Penn, SS Jermaine Phillips, TE Jeremy Stevens, FS Will Allen, DT Ryan Sims, QB Luke McCown, and WR Michael Clayton. What threw everyone for a loop was Clayton’s contract, which was massive for a player who never had more than 500 yards receiving in the past four years.
With the massive reorganization of the Buccaneers, many spots needed to be filled. They needed help at QB, WR, DE, DT, with depth at CB and OT.
Trade: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade the 19th overall selection and the 191st overall selection for the 17th overall selection.
With the 17th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State.
With insider information, HC Raheem Morris came in and drafted Josh Freeman to be his starting QB. He was big, could make big plays, and had fairly good accuracy when not under pressure. However, when he was under pressure, he made bad choices that usually resulted in turnovers.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: WR Jeremy Maclin, WR Percy Harvin, DT Ziggy Hood, C Alex Mack, C Eric Wood, FS Patrick Chung, CB Vonte Davis, SS Jairus Byrd, C Max Unger, G Andy Levitre, SS William Moore, OT Phil Loadholt, OT Sebastian Vollmer, CB Sean Smith, DE Michael Johnson, DT Terrance Knighton, and G Louis Vasquez.
Due to the Winslow trade, the Buccaneers didn’t draft until the third round.
With the 81st pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Roy Miller, DT, Texas.
With Gaines Adams not producing well and Chris Hovan getting old, the Buccaneers decided that defensive tackle was a major need. Coming out of Texas, Miller wasn’t known as a pass rushing DT. So what exactly did the Buccaneers see in him?
At 6’1" 310 pounds, he was heavier than the usual Tampa 2 defensive tackle. That leads me to believe that GM Mark Dominik was looking for a run stopping defensive tackle to help with recent woes. Miller fit the bill but still had questions. His 3Cone scores were terrible, arms a little short, and his ten yard split was bad. In simple terms, he’d have to act like a human cannonball to get to the backfield and would have trouble releasing from blocks.
At Texas, Miller performed decent for a Big 10 defensive tackle. He gathered up 10 sacks but that’s where the good times end. Compared to players taken 30 picks below and above him with a few later round draft choices who were successful in the NFL, Miller was fairly average in college. Even as a run stopper, there were better choices.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: WR Mike Wallace, CB Ladarius Webb, TE Jared Cook, CB Jerraud Powers, DT Henry Melton, WR Mike Thomas, WR Brian Hartline, G T.J. Lang, and FS Glover Quin
Trade: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade the 120th overall selection and the 229th overall selection for the 117th overall selection.
With the 117th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Kyle Moore, DE, USC.
The Buccaneers were so enamored with Kyle Moore that they traded up to get him. All I can see is failure from the start. Moore had questionable explosiveness and his agility wasn’t quality enough to be a pass rusher. My guess is the Buccaneers were looking for a run stopping defensive end. Sadly, I don’t believe Moore could even play that position.
At USC, Moore may have shown up on tape well but his stats aren’t that good. He was rated extremely low compared to players taken after him. The only positive was if he couldn’t get to the QB, he could put his hand up. But he didn’t have the tackles or tackles for loss to show he could play in the NFL.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: WR Louis Murphy, WR Austin Collie, CB Greg Toler, G Tyronne Green, and WR Johnny Knox
With the 155th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Xavier Fulton, OT, Illinois.
At the NFL Combine and his Pro Day, Xavier Fulton showed the Bucs he was one of the most athletic offensive tackles in the draft. He scored will in everything except that he was undersized. But even then he could switch inside and play guard if the Buccaneers felt he couldn’t be an offensive tackle. His only concern was that he injured his right shoulder at Illinois.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: OT Garrett Reynolds, OG Jamon Meredith, SS Chris Clemons, G Matt Slauson, WR Brandon Gibson, FS Jason McCourty, DE Vance Walker, G Paul Fanaika, and CB Captain Munnerlyn
The one thing Dominik was better at than Allen was that he could find quality players in the latter rounds.
With the 217th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select E.J. Biggers, CB, Western Michigan.
E.J. Biggers came into the draft with great speed but didn’t take any agility tests. Also, he weighed only 180 pounds, but that is normal playing weight for Tampa 2 corners.
He even had quality stats at Western Michigan with seven interceptions and twenty four passes broken up. On a per game basis that was good for third for all cornerbacks taken in the last two rounds.
With the 233rd pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Sammie Stroughter, WR, Oregon State.
Sammie Stroughter was an undersized wide receiver that had been through hell. He had a kidney issue at Oregon State that led him to perform badly at the NFL Combine and Pro Day. His explosion was terrible but I wouldn’t want to stretch my stomach either. What he was though, was fast.
Notable 7th Round Picks: WR Julian Edelman, RB Rashad Jennings, DT Clinton McDonald, and G Lance Louis
QB Brian Hoyer, OLB Jonathan Casillas, ILB Josh Mauga, WR Kevin Ogletree, RB Arian Foster, DE Michael Bennett, K Graham Gano, OG Alex Boone, LB Dan Skuta, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, OLB Dannell Ellerbe, OT Demar Dotson, FB Jorvorskie Lane, and many more.
In the end, the Buccaneers missed out on a lot of good players by trading for Winslow and trading up twice for players. GM Mark Dominik drafted based on the teams issues from the previous season but the NFL moves forward not backwards. Josh Freeman turned out to be a good quarterback until he started to have issues with the next head coach and his work ethic. Roy Miller turned out to be a decent nose tackle but move on to the Jaguars. Kyle Moore did play LDE for the Bucs in a rotational role but moved on to Buffalo. Xavier Fulton’s shoulder never got better and he never played a game in the NFL. Biggers and Stroughter played better than most 7th round picks and provided decent depth but never turned into starter material.
Special thanks to CBSSports.com, Pro-Football-Reference.com, and Sports-Reference.com for their help.