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Which potential draft picks would have transformed the Buccaneers?

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Looking at quarterbacks is obvious, but where else can we find alternatives?

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Here’s a neat exercise: which players could the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have drafted over the last fifteen years or so that would have drastically changed their team?

Jenna Laine answered that question for ESPN, and came up with the following answer.

Tampa could have taken Luke Kuechly, who was picked two spots later and is a four-time Pro Bowler for Carolina. The Bucs' secondary struggled and Barron was traded to the Rams in 2014. The Bucs also could have picked Aaron Rodgers instead of selecting Cadillac Williams with the fifth overall pick in 2005. Rodgers went 24th overall. They also could have selected Drew Brees, who was taken 32nd overall in the 2001 draft, but instead, they selected a human-penalty machine in offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker. For an organization that's never had a true franchise quarterback until now, those misses are tough to swallow. -- Jenna Laine

If the Bucs had taken Luke Kuechly instead of Mark Barron they certainly would have been a better team, but I don’t think the difference would have been mind-blowing. One middle linebacker isn’t going to drastically overhaul a defense, no matter how good he is.

Obviously, though, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees would have made for some very different 2000s. Perhaps Brees could have saved Tony Dungy’s job—and perhaps that would have meant no Super Bowl, or multiple Super Bowls.

As for Aaron Rodgers, would he have turned into an All-Pro quarterback under Jon Gruden, forced to start in year one instead of setting three seasons behind Brett Favre? And would Gruden perhaps still be the Bucs’ head coach, saving us from his hyperbolic Monday Night Football commentary?

I would have gone in a different direction, though. Quarterbacks are obvious choices, and thus not very interesting. But I always like high-impact players. Say, for instance, that the Bucs would have drafted Earl Thomas instead of Gerald McCoy back in 2010. Would they have been able to build a secondary like the Seattle Seahawks? McCoy is very good, but Thomas is transformative.

Or what about Carlos Dunlap and Rob Gronkowski instead of Brian Price and Arrelious Benn, also in 2010? That would have made a massive impact. 2014: what about Allen Robinson or Devonta Freeman instead of Austin Seferian-Jenkins?

The list gets pretty long, at least potentially. Of course, that’s always easy to say in hindsight. It’s never clear what anyone’s career is going to be when you actually draft them, and we don’t know what the impact of environment and coaching has been on their development as NFL players, either. Perhaps some of these What Ifs would have been disastrous, too, had these players landed in the Bucs’ locker room.