Round one came down to three players and all three meant the world to this organization. Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks all are incredible options for the best ever first round selection by the Buccaneers. We’re going to ruffle some feathers as I announce Warren Sapp as the greatest first round pick in Buccaneers history. Rather than explain why NOT for Selmon and Brooks, let’s explain why Sapp is the best pick in team history. Warren Sapp is the Buccaneers All-Time leader in sacks with 77. In Selmon’s defense, the sack did not become a stat until 1982. Sapp is fourth on the teams All-Time forced fumbles list and sixth in fumble recoveries. Sapp’s dominance changed the game and he’s still the premier defensive tackle prototype that even front teams look to draft year in and year out. Sapp helped lead the change on the Tampa Bay Buccaneer defense that eventually netted the franchise it’s first and only Superbowl Championship. Ultimately, the Super Bowl ring gives Sapp the nod over Selmon and the dominance upfront unlike any other in team history pushes Sapp to the forefront as the best first round pick in team history.
Round two may have been the easiest selection of them all if not for the Buccaneers third round pick in 97’. Lavonte David has played 6 seasons and in 91 games is nearly halfway to Derrick Brooks’ team record 1,297 tackles (in 224 games) with 547 of his own. David is already fifth on the team in career fumble recoveries, fourth in tackles, third in forced fumbles and 18th in sacks with 18 of his own. If Lavonte can somehow make it to a third contract extension he stands a chance to become the best statistical linebacker in team history. Without playoff success and possibly a Super Bowl ring Lavonte David will stand little to no chance in the eyes of fans at being a better linebacker than Derrick Brooks and the reality is, Derrick Brooks success at his size is why Lavonte David is in the position he’s in today. Barrett Ruud gets an honorable mention here as he deserves some recognition for his time manning the middle while in Tampa.
Round three has been incredible for the Buccaneers in the past with names like Martin Gramatica, Donnie Abraham and John Lynch. Even others such as Mason Foster, Quincy Black, Jamie Duncan, Nate Webster and Scot Brantley. As great an impact as John Lynch had with this team it just didn’t come close for myself to the player that should have never been in Ronde Barber. Barber, like Lynch, is a third rounder that played out his career like a top overall pick. Barber is the All-Time Buccaneer leader in interceptions and defensive touchdowns. Ronde Barber essentially changed the way slot corners are viewed across the NFL as he became the prototype nickel for a Tampa-2 defense.
Round four goes to Dexter Jackson, Buccaneers safety and Super Bowl MVP. Jackson was a fourth-rounder in 1999 and ended up playing a big role in the Buccaneers lopsided Super Bowl victory over the Raiders. Jackson landed himself a pair of interceptions in the game. In total, Jackson played 6 years in Tampa with 42 career starts and eight career interceptions with the team.
Round five is all Jermaine Phillips as the safety taken in 2002 out of Georgia played his entire pro career in Tampa spanning a total of eight seasons. Phillips started 74 games at safety for Tampa and totaled 11 interceptions accompanied by 332 total tackles. From the 2005 season till his final two game stretch in 2009, Phillips was started every game he played in for the Buccaneers.
Round six back in 1993 netted a bit of a fan favorite among the defensive line in Cal product, Chidi Ahanotu. Ahanotu played nine seasons with the Buccaneers and had his pinnacle year in 1997 where he eclipsed the double digit sack mark for the first and only time in his career. Ahanotu started 109 games for the Bucs and is a run away winner for top sixth round pick in team history on defense.
Round seven is a tough one at first glance as EJ Biggers, yes Biggers, is one of the teams best seventh round picks on defense but alas, a year later Dekoda Watson was drafted and spent four years in Tampa as a special teams ace and weapon as a gunner. Watson never became a starter despite elite athleticism at the linebacker position but was a true fan favorite thanks to his special teams work over the years. Watson was a seventh-rounder in 2010 out of Florida State and it’s a shame he never blossomed into a potential starter. None the less, Watson earned his spot in team history as it’s best seventh round selection on defense.
With the seven players selected, there’s sure to be some disagreement on the defensive side of things. All rounds included, Warren Sapp is hands down my pick for greatest defensive selection in team history. Sapp brought the nasty and he brought the final quarter knock out shots on defense with his timely sacks. The QB Killa was a fan favorite with his nasty finishing style on the field and had an off-field persona that matched it. Who is your favorite all time Buccaneer pick on defense?