Two former Buccaneers first-round picks in the 2010s will get the chance to play in pro football’s biggest game, when they take the field on opposite sides for the Patriots and the Rams in Super Bowl 53.
Former Tampa Bay 2011 top pick defensive end, Adrian Clayborn, is a brand new New England Patriot and will join his teammates, who have made appearing in the Super Bowl a regular occurrence.
Meanwhile, former Buccaneers 2012 first-round pick, safety Mark Barron, has settled in nicely with the Rams in their secondary. And, he too will get a shot at the NFL’s biggest prize while with another team.
The man who drafted both Clayborn and Barron, while general manager of the Bucs those two seasons, Mark Dominik, gave a social media “shout out” for their accomplishment on Tuesday night:
Very happy for Buccaneers 2011 1st rounder @AJaClay and 2012 1st rounder @M_B_24 to be playing in their first Super Bowl. Two highly competitive players that have worked hard thru their entire football careers. #SBLIII
— Mark Dominik (@MarkdominikNFL) January 22, 2019
Clayborn came to the Bucs in Raheem Morris’ his final season (2011) and despite Tampa Bay falling apart losing their final ten games and getting Morris fired, he was solid in his rookie year. In fact, he set the Tampa Bay rookie record with 7.5 sacks that season. Unfortunately for Clayborn, he battled season-ending knee and pectoral injuries over the next three seasons, which basically derailed his Buccaneers career.
Tampa Bay did not re-sign him when his rookie contract ran out, and Clayborn instead signed a free agent deal with the division-rival Atlanta Falcons. He played three seasons in Atlanta, without tremendous success or numbers. Except, there was a famous 2017 game at home with the Cowboys, where Clayborn recorded a staggering Falcons franchise record six sacks in the game.
Clayborn (above) signed a two year deal with the New England Patriots this off season. He started only one game, had 2.5 sacks and three tackles for loss, but is part of an AFC winning team.
Meanwhile for Baron, he was drafted in the first round the following year by Dominik and for new coach Greg Schiano. However, he never lived up to the hype of being a top-10 pick out of Alabama, while playing for the Buccaneers. A significant part of that was the disastrous tenure of Schiano, who lost 13 out of 14 games at the end of Barron’s rookie year and to start 2013. Schiano was also, fired.
Then, when the new regime took over Barron’s third season, Lovie Smith as the coach and Jason Licht as the GM, they dealt Barron away at the trade deadline to the then-St Louis Rams.
Baron had a lot of success, at least statistically, in Jeff Fisher defenses, including two years where he had more than 100 tackles in a season playing a safety / linebacker hybrid position.
He’s been a solid contributor on the 2018 team with 60 more tackles under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips; scheme, three of those for losses, with one sack, and one forced fumble.
Buccaneer fans have gotten used to watching other players, in particular quarterbacks like the fame Doug Williams, Steve Young And even Trent Dilfer go to another Squad and win a ring.
And another former Tampa Bay first round defender, corner Aqib Talib, has won two rings with the Patriots and the Broncos. And he’s now going for an unusual “trifecta” of a third title with a third different team, as he will be in the L.A. secondary with Barron, too.
So, now, Bucs fans get to watch again in a week and a half, as Clayborn and Barron, picked in the first round to potentially be long-standing good players on the Bucs defense, were basically allowed to walk out the door in their prime.
And, now will play for a championship, somewhere else.
Injury concerns for Bucs RB Jones and WR Evans
The start of fourth week of training camp has a couple of concerns for Buccaneers offensive stars, receiver Mike Evans and running back, Ronald Jones.
Neither player participated in the Bucs latest workout Monday, and now there’s some doubt as to whether either will play in Friday night’s third preseason game with the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium?
The Bucs are not required by the NFL to give any update on injuries at this point, unless they choose to, but head coach Bruce Arians provided a brief one after practice.
“Ronald’s knee swelled up a little bit and just trying to take it day to day with him. Mike tweaked yesterday…it’s nothing serious.”
Traditionally, the third preseason game is the final time where starters for the regular season play significantly.
When asked if both would be held out Friday night, Arians briefly said:
“We’ll see how it is. We still got a few more days. I think Ronald’s gonna be ok. I’m not sure about Mike.”
First, on Evans, the Pro Bowl wide receiver from a year ago pulled up on a pass drill Sunday during practice and although the Bucs aren’t saying anything, there’s concern that he may have sustained a hamstring injury of some type. Tampa Bay is heavily counting on Evans to be their go-to weapon, especially on third down. A year ago he caught for 1,524 yards and a career high 17.7 avg with 8 TDs.
Evans previously dealt with a hamstring injury in the 2015 preseason and missed the season opener with Tennessee but returned the following week.
As for Jones, he appeared to have suffered some kind of left knee hyper-extension returning the opening kickoff on a rain-slicked turf against the Dolphins Friday night. That’s what can be seen this photo on social media from Tampa Bay sports reporter Kevin O’Donnell showing Jones knee clearly in an awkward spot when he planted.
Wondering why #Bucs runningback Ronald Jones knee is sore? This is the opening kickoff Friday night against the Dolphins. Rojo didn’t practice yesterday. Looks like a hyperextension to me. pic.twitter.com/mVmW86E96x
— Kevin ODonnell Fox13 (@ODonnellFox13) August 19, 2019
Jones did carry the ball twice for 7 yards leader in the first quarter of the game before being shut down for the night.
Jones has been one of the standouts of the Bucs offseason and training camp with glowing updates repeatedly from Arians about his progress and his chances of seeing significant playing time. Jones missed three games with a hamstring injury in a disappointing rookie year.
Now, we wait to see how long he and Evans will be out.
Positive injury update news for Bucs DT Vita Vea
Bucs coach Bruce Arians gave another positive update Sunday on one of his star defensive players he’s counting on to come back from injury. It looks like hulking defensive tackle Vita Vea is still on track to potentially play in the season opener September 8th.
After the Buccaneers Sunday morning training camp workout, Arians was asked, if there was any new news on Via resting and rehabbing the sprained ligament in his left knee? He told the media:
"Obviously, when you’re put in game-winning situations and your young players perform, you’re proud of them, and they did exactly that."
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 18, 2019
“He’s getting better and better everyday. No pain (in the knee). So, I’ve got my fingers crossed that he’s gonna be ready (opening day),” Arians said plainly.
The former first-round pick a year ago out of the University of Washington was injured almost two weeks ago in a one-on-one pass blocking drill, crumbling to the ground with the Bucs and their fans holding their breath. However it turns out it was only a sprain ligament that did not require surgery and Vea could still possibly play at the beginning of the regular season, including the opener with the 49ers.
Vea was seen walking on the sideline Friday night during the Bucs preseason game with the Dolphins with the aid of a heavily braced left knee.
This is the second straight training camp that Vea has been sidelined with a significant injury. Last year, he suffered a torn calf muscle on the second day of workouts and missed all of the preseason and the first three games of the regular season recovering from the injury and getting into playing shape.
When he did comeback, Vea came on strong in the second half of the season and began to show signs of promise, as to why the Bucs had picked him in the top 15 of the draft. He had a career high nine tackles in a December game in Baltimore and was all over the line of scrimmage and the backfield causing disruptions.
Then, in Dallas the following week, he was once again making plays early in the game. Although, he had a first-half sack Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott nullified by a face mask penalty, he got another one that counted by blindsiding Prescott on the final play of the first half.
Vea finished with three tackles, the sack and one tackle for loss in that game. And, in the second half of the season, he ended up with 28 tackles with three sacks and five tackles for loss in eight games.
Vea is being heavily counted on to help the interior of the Bucs defensive line in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ 3 – 4 defense. He along with new free agent pro bowl veteran Ndamukong Suh are going to be the guys relied upon to get pressure up the middle for the defense.