Most of the tight end standouts in team history have arrived via methods other than the draft, such as last year's free agent, Ken Dilger
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. Next up is the tight end position, which Tampa Bay has historically ignored on the draft's first day.
The lack of a first-round draft pick does not have to stop the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from making team history this weekend, if they so choose. The Bucs could spend a higher draft pick on a tight end than ever before if they simply devote number 64 to that position.
The Bucs' first pick is the very last of the second round, and the team has never before used a second-round choice on a tight end, let alone a first-rounder. In fact, they've taken only three third-round stabs at the position in 27 previous drafts, and none since 1994.
That being said, Tampa Bay's tight end history is most definitely not a wasteland. Jimmie Giles, who came to Tampa as part of the 1978 trade that allowed the Houston Oilers to move to the top spot and take RB Earl Campbell, was one of the league's better tight ends of the late 70s and early 80s. Until RB James Wilder made the NFL's all-star game in 1984, Giles was the only offensive Pro Bowler in Buccaneer franchise history, having gone in 1980, '81 and '82, then again in '85. His four Pro Bowl appearances are still second-most in team history among offensive players, trailing only Mike Alstott's six.
Other tight ends who have proven better than average for the Bucs include Ron Hall, a fourth-rounder in 1987 who stands ninth on the team's all-time receiving chart; Jackie Harris, a restricted free agent grab from the Green Bay Packers who had 137 catches in just 50 games as a Buc and led the team with 62 in 1995; Dave Moore, a waiver-wire pickup in 1992 who ended up playing in more games as a Buccaneer than any offensive player other than linemen Paul Gruber and Tony Mayberry; and, most recently, Ken Dilger and Rickey Dudley, a pair of free agent finds who combined for 50 catches and five touchdowns last year.
Tampa Bay has generally gotten adequate to above-adequate production from the tight end spot, just without addressing it through the draft. In fact, those three 'first-day' tight end picks from the last 27 years do not rank among the most memorable players in team history.
Tight Ends Drafted by Tampa Bay in the Second and Third Rounds