Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Good Spot

The Buccaneers have a lot to live up to with the 19th overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft, as that spot has produced an inordinately high number of standout players in the last decade and a half

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The 19th overall pick in the draft has produced a lot of stars in the last two decades, including former Buccaneer and Viking G Randall McDaniel

In the spring of 1992, the Indianapolis Colts went into the NFL Draft in possession of an unusual bounty: the top two picks overall. No team had done that since 1958.

The Colts, now one of the league's most consistently successful teams, were coming off a 1-15 season in 1991. They hadn't won a playoff game since 1971, but had high hopes for a turnaround with the infusion of some top-notch talent.

It didn't quite work out that way. The Colts used those two picks on a pair of supposed defensive cornerstones, Steve Emtman and Quentin Coryatt, but didn't break through to the Super Bowl until 14 years later. Six of the top 12 players drafted in 1992 became Pro Bowlers in the NFL, but that did not including Emtman or Coryatt. The former was out of Indianapolis by 1995 and the latter would follow three years later.

The Colts picked first overall again in 1998 and fared much, much better with quarterback Peyton Manning, a sure Hall of Famer and the most indispensible player on Indy's 2006 championship team. But the construction of that Super Bowl team really began in the two previous drafts, and not at the first overall pick.

In 1996, Indianapolis picked 19th and made Marvin Harrison of Syracuse the fourth receiver off the board. A year later, the Colts were sitting at 19 again when they nabbed California offensive tackle Tarik Glenn. Harrison, who just finished his 13-year tenure in Indianapolis, has caught more passes than every player in NFL history save for Jerry Rice, Cris Carter and Tim Brown. Glenn solidified the critical left tackle position for more than a decade, starting all but six games during his career.

That's a remarkable haul for a pair of 19th-overall picks…or is it?

There is ample evidence that picking first overall, while the most obvious avenue to such superstars as Manning and Orlando Pace and Troy Aikman, is just about as risky as any pick in the opening round. On the other hand, a mid-round pick or even the post-draft free agency pickings can unearth long-term standouts. There were a total of 10 eventual Pro Bowlers drafted in that 1992 first round, and they went third, fourth, seventh, eighth, 11th, 12th, 16th, 20th, 26th and 28th.

Of course, that's fairly obvious, that any given pick can hit. But we're talking specifically about the 19th pick here, and what makes the Harrison/Glenn selections even more interesting is that they were near the front end of what has been a surprisingly good run for that spot.

Last year we analyzed the recent history of the 20th overall pick in preparation for the Bucs' turn in that spot, which they eventually used on Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib. If Talib's NFL career unfolds as successfully as his fine rookie year promised, he could soon be one of the most noteworthy #20 picks in recent years. The 10 previous players picked in that same spot have combined to produce two Pro Bowl seasons, both by wide receiver Javon Walker (2004, 2006).

That's not to say that Walker and #20 mates like Ebenezer Ekuban and Stockar McDougle have not had productive NFL careers, or that recent additions to the club such as Tamba Hali and Aaron Ross won't eventually emerge as all-stars. Still, the list seems light on obvious top-tier stars, and even Walker's career has hit some bumps in the last few years.

Compare that to the 19 Club. We expanded the list to the last 15 years this spring, simply to see if the #19s could stay on a roll. Not only did that unearth Harrison and Glenn, but it also extended to two-time Pro Bowler Todd Steussie, who started 185 career games, including a handful with the Buccaneers.

Here are the last 15 players taken 19th overall in the NFL Draft:

**YEAR****TEAM****PLAYER****Notes**
2008CarolinaT Jeff OtahStarted right in as RT starter as a rookie
2007TennesseeS Michael GriffinTied for 2nd in NFL with 7 INTs in '08
2006San DiegoCB Antonio CromartieA Pro Bowler by his 2nd season
2005St. LouisT Alex BarronStarted 58 of 64 games in first 4 yrs.
2004MiamiG Vernon Carey64 starts in 5 yrs. at RT and LT
2003BaltimoreQB Kyle Boller42 career starts, spent '08 on IR
2002DenverWR Ashley Lelie4 teams, 91 catches in last 4 years
2001PittsburghDT Casey Hampton4 Pro Bowls in first 8 years
2000SeattleRB Shaun AlexanderNFL MVP in 2005; 3 Pro Bowls
1999N.Y. GiantsT Luke PetitgoutVersatile starter; 110 starts in 9 seasons
1998Green BayDT Vonnie Holliday51.5 sacks in 11 seasons, 5 in GB
1997IndianapolisT Tarik Glenn154 career starts, 3 Pro Bowls
1996IndianapolisWR Marvin Harrison1,042 receptions, 4th in NFL history
1995JacksonvilleRB James StewartCareer: 5,841 yards, 48 TDs
1994MinnesotaT Todd Steussie213 games, 185 starts, 2 Pro Bowls

Last year's #19, tackle Jeff Otah, hasn't had much time to build up Pro Bowl credentials, but he did step immediately into the starting right tackle job for the NFC South-champion Carolina Panthers. The two #19 picks before him have already made it to the all-star game, with Tennessee safety Michael Griffin going last year after a huge, seven-interception season and San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie getting the nod in 2007. Both have the look of secondary stars for years to come.

In addition to Otah, four other offensive linemen have gone at #19 in the last 15 years — Steussie, New York Giants tackle Luke Petitgout, St. Louis tackle Alex Barron and Miami guard/tackle Vernon Carey — and all were or have been career-long starters. Petitgout, like Steussie, ended up in Tampa for a short stint.

Pittsburgh defensive tackle Casey Hampton has been a Pro Bowl selection in four of his eight seasons and is one of the league's premier interior linemen. Former Seattle running back Shaun Alexander has an NFL MVP trophy on his mantle and defensive tackle Vonnie Holliday is halfway to 100 sacks.

Running back James Stewart never made a Pro Bowl but had a productive career in Jacksonville and Detroit and peaked at 1,184 yards and 10 touchdowns as a Lion in 2000.

None of the 15 names on the list scream "bust" too loudly. Kyle Boller hasn't solved the Ravens' quarterback situation since coming off the board at #19 in 2003, but he does have 42 career starts and might still emerge as a starter in Baltimore or elsewhere. It's reasonable to say that wide receiver Ashley Lelie hasn't worked out as Denver would have hoped in 2002, but he has 210 receptions and his career average of 17.1 yards per catch suggests he has big-play potential that might still be tapped.

With 32 teams in the league in the modern era, the 19th pick falls almost at the middle of the opening stanza. It was actually a second-round choice prior to 1967, when the AFL and NFL began drafting together, making it a 26-team process. The first #19 who could also call himself a first-rounder was Arkansas running back Harry Jones, who went to the Eagles. Jones played sparingly over four seasons for Philadelphia, rushing a total of 44 times for 85 yards.

Philadelphia also executed the first #19 pick ever, taking Stanford center Wes Muller with that pick, the first one of the third round, in the inaugural draft of 1936. Muller never played for the Eagles, and his 1937 successor, Green Bay tackle Ave Daniell appeared in only five games for the Packers. In 1944, the Lions drafted USC All-America tight end Ralph Heywood after Heywood had played one season with the Chicago Rockets of the rival All-America Football Conference. Heywood's NFL career only lasted four years but he was a Marine Corps officer for 32 years and the only NFL player to serve in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Some more recent notables who came into the league as the 19th overall pick include Saints defensive end Wayne Martin (1989), Vikings (and Buccaneers) guard Randall McDaniel (1988), Colts guard Ron Solt (1984), Vikings safety Joey Browner (1983), Bears linebacker Otis Wilson (1980), Cardinals cornerback Roger Wehrli (1969), Colts tight end John Mackey (1963) and Lions guard Dick Stanfel (1951). McDaniel just joined Wehrli and Mackey in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The club of 19th overall picks also produces one coincidental and uneasy pairing. In a preseason game in 1978, New England wide receiver Darryl Stingley suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed after he was hit by Oakland defensive back Jack Tatum. Tatum was the 19th overall pick in 1971; Stingley was the 19th overall pick two years later.

Though several of the #19 picks eventually suited up as Buccaneers, Tampa Bay has never made that specific selection in the first round. The Bucs appeared to hit a home run with the 20th overall selection a year ago; now they will try to sustain the remarkable league-wide run at #19.

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