Over the last 43 years the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had there fair share of boom and bust draft picks. The offensive side of the ball has been a struggle for many years in Tampa and while it’s most recent teams have been able to show some real signs of improvement in that area, it definitely had a lot of doom and gloom for the first 30+ years in franchise history. That said, let us take a look at each round’s best All-Time offensive draft pick. The criteria baseline was kept simple, six or more years of service as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and the player had to be drafted by Tampa Bay.
Round one you would think would be easy yet that wasn’t exactly the case here. Vinny Testaverde played six years in Tampa as the team’s starting quarterback but threw 35 more interceptions than touchdowns so he didn’t make the cut. Davin Joseph got a look given his 8 years with the team and a Pro Bowl nod but again, just not enough all around to take the top spot as the teams best ever first rounder. Warrick Dunn spent 6 years with the team but ultimately had his best years as a Falcon and Doug Williams fell into the same essential boat. When all is said and done the pick was quite obvious. Paul Gruber is the teams current best ever first round pick on offense. Mike Evans and Jameis Winston may have their day in court, no pun intended, and claim this title when they wrap things up but what Gruber did for this team providing stability at the Left Tackle position for 12 years and 183 starts was simply incredible. Gruber is a Ring of Honor inductee at Raymond James stadium and is currently everything fans will hope can one day say about Donovan Smith.
Round two was hands down the easiest as this player was a fan favorite and is a thing of legend in Tampa Bay. Mike Alstott, the A-Train, will forever be the team’s best second round pick. What Alstott meant to the fan base as well as the offense maintaining drives and putting up 6 inside the 10 isn’t quantifiable by a single number or ranking. Alstott gave this team everything he had for 11 years that saw him total 5,088 yards on the ground to go with 58 rushing touchdowns. The A-Train tallied six trips to the Pro Bowl to go with three First Team All-Pro selections. For every wrecking ball moment he gave this franchise it’s easy to forget the pass catcher he was in the league. Alstott finished with 305 receptions for 2,284 yards and 13 touchdowns through the air. He embodied the ground and pound mentality that was the cornerstone of the Buccaneers offense while he was here.
Round three followed suit with round two in that there really just aren’t that many options to pick from. Frank Middleton started a few seasons in Tampa as a third round pick, Jeremy Zuttah and Mike Glennon had their time as heavily relied upon starters and Alex Smith (our Alex Smith, the tight end I’m sure we all remember) all have had (and still having for some) a good amount of time in the league but only one Buccaneer 3rd rounder consistently produced and that man is Mark Carrier. Carrier played 6 seasons in Tampa, starting 80 games, while tallying a Pro Bowl nod in 89’ when he finished with 1,422 yards and 9 touchdowns on 86 receptions. When Carrier finished his Buccaneer career he was the sole leader (and to this day still is) in receiving yards in franchise history. Carrier is also 5th all time in receiving touchdowns and second in receptions.
Round four comes down to one and only one player today for the Buccaneers but before mentioning him I’d like to take a second for a last minute “What could have been?” This is for Mike Williams and what could have been an incredible career that seemingly went off the rails at the drop of a hat. Williams, had he kept his stuff together, could have gone down as the team’s best receiver in history. After three straight 60+ catch seasons to start his career to go along with 23 touchdowns and 2,731 yards he just disappeared. Thank godness for Mike Evans, right?
Back to the best fourth-round pick on offense in team history, Tony Mayberry. Mayberry was a mainstay at center for 10 years totaling 145 starts for the Buccaneers. Mayberry started every single game at center from 1991 to 1999 and closed out his last three years with Pro Bowl nods. Ronald Jones II is hoping the likes of Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet and Ryan Jensen can provide the same stability that Gruber and Mayberry did for the likes of Mike Alstott in the 90’s.
Round five starts the tough part for offensive draft picks in Buccaneer history. In the end, there’s only one pick here and it’s none other than radio host and former right guard, Ian Beckles. Beckles spent 7 seasons in Tampa while starting in 97 games as the teams right guard. Beckles missed out on the good years with his career taking him to Philadelphia before hanging up the cleats after the ‘98 season. Beckles may also be the best Canadian Buc of all time as well.
Round six gives us a throwback to the glory days again with Jameel Cook. Cook was a sixth round pick out of Illinois back in 2001 and played in a total of 82 games as a Buccaneer. Playing somewhat of a modern day H-back role, Cook was a running back that saw most of his action in the passing game as he totaled 84 receptions and 3 touchdowns versus just 3 career rushes in Tampa.
Round seven came down to two players here in Sammie Stroughter and Jim Pyne. Stroughter never quite grew from his rookie season and after year two, simply faded away into the abyss of the league as many do. This brings us to Jim Pyne who racked up 38 starts in three seasons for the Buccaneers at left guard. Pyne was part of a Gruber and Mayberry offensive line that helped take Mike Alstott to the Pro Bowl and his first All Pro season in 97.
Round 8 + is irrelevant nowadays as it no longer takes place but one former Buccaneer late rounder did shine despite a long draft wait. That man is Gerald Carter who was a ninth round pick by the Buccaneers in 1980. Carter played his rookie year for the Jets before returning to Tampa Bay for the final seven years of his career. Carter jumped onto the scene for the Bucs in his third year with the team in ‘83 and followed it up with a career year in ‘84 with 800 yards receiving and five touchdowns. Carter finished his Buccaneer career with 3,443 yards receiving, 239 catches and 17 touchdowns. Carter is currently ninth on the teams all time receiving yards leader board.
There it is, the teams best draft picks on offense in each round with Gerald Carter rounding it out. Mike Alstott would have to be my current favorite pick on offense from this list as I grew up watching him run straight through defenses. What say you all? Any player that got snubbed? Maybe another player should take someone’s spot above? Surely the defensive side of the ball (coming soon) will cause some controversy. As always, Go Bucs!