California's Kyle Boller has risen quickly through what is considered a very deep class of quarterbacks in the 2003 draft
In the weeks prior to the 2003 NFL Draft, Buccaneers.com will analyze each position on the team in regards to the draft, looking at depth, selection history and available players. Much of the focus will be on the Bucs' second and third-round history, as the team does not currently own a first-round pick. As usual, this look at the draft is not intended to reflect the intentions or strategies of the Buccaneers' personnel decision-makers. Our last stop is at quarterback, where the Bucs are stacked with depth but always looking for more talent.
Ten days before the 2003 NFL Draft, Tampa Bay Buccaneers General Manager Rich McKay was surprisingly up front about the likelihood of his team drafting a quarterback in rounds two or three this weekend.
"I'm not big on discussing specific positions, but this one's a good one," he said. "I wouldn't say that is one (position) we'll walk away from day one with."
Of course, earlier in that same discussion, McKay had also commented on the widespread NFL practice of spreading draft disinformation, so you may not be willing to accept that comment as hard evidence on the matter.
How about this: In 27 previous drafts, the Buccaneers have drafted all of four quarterbacks in rounds in the first three rounds. Three of those – Doug Williams, Vinny Testaverde and Trent Dilfer – were first-rounders, and Testaverde and Dilfer were high first rounders. Shaun King remains the only quarterback ever drafted by the Bucs in the second round, and there have been no third-rounders.
|**Quarterbacks Drafted in the Last Five Years**|
|**Year**||**Round**||**Player**||**School**||**Still on Team?**|
|2000||7th||Joe Hamilton||Georgia Tech||No|
Or this: Tampa Bay already has five quarterbacks under contract. Even for a head coach who openly covets multiple quarterbacks like Jon Gruden, that sounds like a full house for training camp. Last season, the Bucs had four passers under contract when the offseason began, but Joe Hamilton suffered a knee injury while playing in the NFL Europe League and had to be put on injured reserve. Tampa Bay thus took only three quarterbacks to camp, using punter Tom Tupa and offensive assistant Jay Gruden as extra arms when needed for certain drills.
With that in mind, one can understand why McKay says quarterback is 'not a priority position' this weekend.
On the other hand, the Bucs have also insisted that they will stick close to a 'best-available-player' strategy in this draft. Though that is usually little more than a cliché on draft weekend, it does appear as if Tampa Bay can use the entire board, given the overall strength and depth of the existing roster. If one of the prized QB prospects slips to the bottom of the second round, would Gruden and McKay be tempted?
King is still considered a potential future starter and first-year man Greg Zolman is an untested project, but the Bucs will take as much talent as they can get at what McKay considers the most important position on the field. Tampa Bay hasn't spent a first-day pick on a quarterback since King, in 1999.
Quarterbacks Drafted by Tampa Bay in the Second and Third Rounds