In the 1996 draft, T Fred Miller was selected with the 141st overall choice, a pick the Buccaneers own this spring
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into the 2005 NFL Draft with a dozen picks, which should give the team its largest draft class since 1992, when the process still had 12 rounds. In '92, the Bucs added seven players who made the roster for a reasonable amount of time, including an eventual starting quarterback (Craig Erickson), a defensive rookie of the year (defensive tackle Santana Dotson), another starting defensive tackle (Mark Wheeler), a nasty blocking tight end (Tyji Armstrong) and a productive receiver (Courtney Hawkins).
It did not prove to be the best draft class in team history, nor was it anything close to the worst. The Bucs hit on some of their 13 picks, and missed on a few. Their 10th and 11th-round picks (linebacker Elijah Alexander and running back Mazio Royster) made the team; their sixth and seventh-round picks (linebacker James Malone and S Ken Swilling) did not.
Most years, most teams' drafts end up that way, a mixed bag, hopefully slanted to the positive. But it is possible to really nail a draft from beginning to end? Well, the Bucs may have gotten close last year, though it's too early to tell. The quick evidence: All eight players drafted by Tampa Bay last spring played during the 2004 regular season. The point is, the Buccaneers could find a helpful player at each of their 12 draft spots.
How would you feel about a draft that netted a Pro Bowl running back; a 95-catch receiver; an interception-happy cornerback; a starting quarterback; a productive reserve defensive tackle; a starting right tackle; a starting linebacker; a bruising, change-of-pace running back; a starting guard; a starting center; a backup quarterback and another speedy, productive receiver?
That's an amalgam of a class we can produce from the last 10 years using the picks the Buccaneers currently possess in this year's draft. Barring trades, Tampa Bay will select fifth, 36th, 71st, 91st, 107th, 141st, 144th, 178th, 203rd, 221st, 225th and 253rd. Those slots, over the last 10 years, can be used to pick this stitched-together team (in order of draft choice):
- 5: RB LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego, 2001) * 36: WR Chad Johnson (Cincinnati, 2001) * 71: CB Donnie Abraham (Tampa Bay, 1996) * 91: QB Brian Griese (Denver, 1998) * 107: DT Joe Salave'a (Tennessee, 1998) * 141: T Fred Miller (St. Louis, 1996) * 144: LB John Holecek (Buffalo, 1995) * 178: RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (Pittsburgh, 1998) * 203: G Paul Zukauskus (Cleveland, 2001) * 221: G Tom Nutten (Buffalo, 1995) * 225: QB Matt Mauck (Denver, 1995) * 253: WR David Givens (New England, 2002)
That is probably the best all-around team we can fashion from the list of slot-specific picks from the past 10 years, but it is not the only interesting group. Instead of Tomlinson, would you like to substitute Jamal Lewis or Kerry Collins? Would you trade out Abraham for Duce Staley or Ben Leber? Want a change-of-pace back late in the third rather than a passer? Try Brian Westbrook. Even at the end of the seventh round you've got choices, if you'd rather have a productive defensive tackle like Alfonso Boone than Givens.
Every draft is going to have its boom and bust players, so any extensive list like this one is going to have hits and misses, no matter which teams were making the picks. To pull out an all-star team from the Bucs' draft slots may be a bit misleading, but it is certainly encouraging. At the very least, it is interesting information, so here is a look at the full list of players drafted in the Bucs' current slots over the last 10 years. Interpret it as you wish.
|5||S Sean Taylor||CB Terence Newman||CB Quentin Jammer||RB LaDainian Tomlinson|
|36||DT Junior Siavii||S Eugene Wilson||WR Josh Reed||WR Chad Johnson|
|71||DT Randy Starks||WR Nate Burleson||LB Ben Leber||DB Bhawoh Jue|
|91||DE Tony Hargrove||TE Visanthe Shiancoe||RB Brian Westbrook||S Cory Bird|
|107||LB Kendyll Pope||CB Dejuan Groce||FB Omar Easy||LB Monty Beisel|
|141||T Jake Scott||DE Kenny King||LB Andra Davis||TE Billy Baber|
|144||TE Sean Ryan||LB James Davis||WR Herb Haygood||T Marques Sullivan|
|178||T Marco Cavka||DB B.J. Tucker||T Matt Anderle||S Tony Driver|
|203||T Drew Strojny||WR Kareem Kelly||WR Jamin Elliot||G Paul Zukauskus|
|221||T Tony Pape||WR Keenan Howry||LB Maurice Rodriguez||DT Ennis Davis|
|225||QB Matt Mauck||T Todd Williams||WR Darrell Hill||T Brian Crawford|
|253||DE Isaac Hilton||WR DeAndrew Rubin||WR David Givens||n/a|
|5||RB Jamal Lewis||RB Ricky Williams||RB Curtis Enis|
|36||WR Todd Pinkston||LB Mike Peterson||T Anthony Clement|
|71||DT Darwin Walker||WR D'Wayne Bates||WR E.G. Green|
|91||CB David Macklin||S Tony George||QB Brian Griese|
|107||DE Junior Ioane||LB Nate Stimson||DT Joe Salave'a|
|141||TE Dave Stachelski||G Reggie Nelson||G Doug Karczewski|
|144||RB Michael Wiley||LB Khari Samuel||S Kerry Cooks|
|178||DE John Frank||CB Tyrone Bell||RB C. Fuamatu-Ma'afala|
|203||DB Damen Wheeler||T Scott Curry||DT Henry Slay|
|221||LB Lester Towns||WR Sulecio Sanford||DE Angel Rubio|
|225||S Rashidi Barnes||DT Ryan Hale||CB Tony Darden|
|253||DT Alfonso Boone||FB Jim Finn||n/a|
|5||CB Bryant Westbrook||DE Cedric Jones||QB Kerry Collins|
|36||RB Tiki Barber||S Lawyer Milloy||DE Shawn King|
|71||RB Duce Staley||CB Donnie Abraham||S Chris Hudson|
|91||LB Mike Vrabel||RB Reggie Brown||G Brenden Stai|
|107||DE Pratt Lyons||DE Kendrick Burton||TE Tyrone Davis|
|141||DB Van Hiles||T Fred Miller||LB Stephen Boyd|
|144||DT Andre Purvis||S Greg Myers||LB John Holecek|
|178||C Daniel Palmer||LB Tom Tumulty||LB Eddie Mason|
|203||DB Hudhaifi Ismaeli||QB Spence Fisher||WR Eddie Goines|
|221||LB Jon Hesse||CB Reggie Rusk||G Tom Nutten|
|225||DB Byron Capers||DE Johnie Church||P Bryne Diehl|
|253||n/a||RB Michael Hicks||n/a|