The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just announced the jersey numbers of their rookie draft picks. They start their rookie minicamp today, so this is right on time.
In order of draft selection, here are the Bucs’ rookie jersey numbers.
TE O.J. Howard: #80
S Justin Evans: #21
WR Chris Godwin: #12
LB Kendell Beckwith: #51
RB Jeremy McNichols: #33
DT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu: #97
None of these conflict with numbers worn by players already on the roster, so no transactions likely needed to take place to get this done.
A few of these numbers have some historical significant. Evans’ number 21 was worn previously by Pro Bowl cornerback Donnie Abraham, who anchored the Bucs’ secondary from 1996 through 2001.
Tu’ikolovatu’s #97 was Simeon Rice’s number in Tampa, though the two aren’t much alike: the Bucs’ rookie is a massive run-stuffing nose tackle, while Rice was a lithe speed-rushing defensive end.
Most ominously, O.J. Howard isn’t the first Bucs first-round pick to wear number 80. In 2004, that was Michael Clayton’s number, the fifteenth overall pick in that draft class. Clayton had an outstanding rookie season, putting up 1,193 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
After that rookie season, Clayton collapsed. He never even touched 500 yards in a season again, and was known more for his blocking than his ability to catch balls—never a good sign for a receiver.
Hopefully O.J. Howard will do a little better wearing that number.