(Thursday night’s opening round of the draft will be the 43rd in Buccaneers history. So, we asked the historical authority on all things Bucs’ football, Paul Stewart of Bucpower.com in London, to give his insight on the most important picks in franchise history. Enjoy!)
The all time best Buccaneer draft picks
When it comes to the best draft days that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had in their history, you have to look at the first, the best and the most. Because these are what sums up the drafts that Buc fans can look back on with pride and happiness.
So forgetting the non-arrival of Bo Jackson, the awful selections of Eric Curry and Keith McCants, the terrible misses on Charles McRae and Booker Reese and the high picks traded away for next to nothing, the rose-colored glasses are not needed when it comes to selecting the most outstanding draft choices in franchise history.
For the first read also the defining. The Bucs won a coin toss with the Seattle Seahawks that gave them the first overall selection in their expansion year of 1976 and they went for DE Lee Roy Selmon from Oklahoma. Selmon went to six Pro Bowls, the NFL Hall of Fame and was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year during the Bucs’ playoff season of 1979. And there has never been a more outstanding person off the field in the community than No.63 either. When he passed away in 2011, one leading sportswriter simply wrote “God has hit on his first round pick”. So did the Buccaneers in 1976.
When it comes to the best, you move only nearly two decades to 1995 and the first round selections of DE Warren Sapp and LB Derrick Brooks. Two Hall of Famers in the same draft is truly outstanding but the duo helped changed the course of the franchise from the moribund years of the 1980s and early 1990s and were both part of the Super Bowl winning team in January 2003. The Bucs had to rely on some smart trading to acquire the 12th and 28th overall selections used to take their two defensive stars as well as other teams passing on the controversial Sapp and seemingly-undersized Brooks.
For the most, then you go back to 1987. Two straight 2-14 seasons under Coach Leeman Bennett had led the Buccaneers totally devoid of talent and new coach Ray Perkins used a multitude of picks to re-stock his roster. Whilst the first overall selection of QB Vinny Testaverde can still be debated, the 3rd and 4th rounds saw the arrival of an entire receiving corps in WR Mark Carrier, WR Bruce Hill and TE Ron Hall. Carrier remains the franchise’s all-time leading receiver and the Bucs added five other starters from that draft as well as future NFL offensive co-ordinator Mike Shula as a 12th round QB selection.
There have been some excellent late round picks in Buccaneer history, NT David Logan in the 12th round in 1979 and WR Gerald Carter in the 9th round a year later. There are also draft disasters such as taking a punter in the 4th round in 1988 (Monte Robbins) who never even made the team. And this is before you get into the realms of the actual draft busts whose performances did not live up to their selections.
Whoever the Buccaneers draft in 2018, the scrutiny will begin and the spotlight be upon them when the season starts later this year. If Coach Dirk Koetter’s team are to return to post-season football for the first time since 2007, they need some of this year’s choices to live up to the standard set by some of the great picks that preceeded them.
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