Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Best Picks Ever

On the occasion of the NFL's 75th draft, you can help choose the 75 Most Valuable Draft Picks of All Time...The league selected 10 players from each team for the preliminary field, and among the Bucs selected are Derrick Brooks, Mike Alstott and Lee Roy Selmon

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How valuable was the first draft pick the Bucs ever made? DE Lee Roy Selmon was the first Buc into the Hall of Fame and the Ring of Honor

Since the Philadelphia Eagles called the name of University of Chicago back Jay Berwanger on February 8, 1936, a total of 22,988 players have been selected in 74 NFL drafts.

Whichever team chooses 12th in the first round on April 22 - the pick is currently owned by the Miami Dolphins - will make it an even 23,000 early in the league's 75th draft. That's 23,000 stories, some of them long forgotten but some that are integral parts of the NFL's rich history. For every draft bust there is a star, and for every Jay Berwanger, who never played a down in the NFL (by choice), there is a player who became one of the most important figures in his team's annals.

But can we say, out of those 23,000 or so options, who were the top draft picks of them all? The NFL is going to try.

On the occasion of this milestone draft, the NFL has decided to pinpoint the 75 "Most Valuable Draft Picks of All Time." The final decisions will be made by fans who vote online at NFL.com between now and April 18.

What constitutes a "most valuable" pick? The NFL is letting the fans decide that, too. A preliminary field of 320 picks has been formed by NFL.com editors, who made 10 selections from each team's draft history. The voting process for fans involves choosing between randomly selected pairs of players and then eventually formulating their own top-10 lists. Click here to learn more on NFL.com.

NFL.com chose these 10 draft picks as the ones to represent the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, presented here in alphabetical order:

Year

Round, Overall Pick

Player

1996

Second, 35th

FB Mike Alstott

1997

Third, 66th

CB Ronde Barber

1995

First, 28th

LB Derrick Brooks

1983

Third, 57th

WR Mark Carrier

1997

First, 12th

RB Warrick Dunn

1993

Third, 82nd

S John Lynch

1990

Fourth, 108th

C Tony Mayberry

1995

First, 12th

DT Warren Sapp

1976

First, 1st

DE Lee Roy Selmon

1987

First, 1st

QB Vinny Testaverde

Let's take a closer look at the Bucs' nominees as chosen by the NFL:

1. FB Mike Alstott

The Buccaneers went defense in the opening round of Tony Dungy's first draft, taking linemen Regan Upshaw and Marcus Jones, but found Alstott still sitting on the board high in the second round. They couldn't pass again, and the Purdue fullback made an instant impact, setting a then-Bucs rookie record with 65 receptions and scoring a total of six touchdowns.

Alstott's share in the running game would then climb over the next three seasons, peaking at 949 yards on 242 carries in 1999. Whether he was used most as a feature back, a short-yardage back or a pass-catcher out of the backfield, Alstott always had a nose for the end zone, eventually demolishing the team record with 71 total touchdowns. By the time a neck injury ended his career after the 2006 season, Alstott stood first in team history in touchdowns, third in overall scoring (432 points), second in rushing yards (5,088) and fourth in receptions (305).

Alstott was one of the most productive running backs of any variety to be drafted in 1996, joining Eddie George and Stephen Davis as the standouts from that year. His selection was also one of the high points of the second round that year, though three other players chosen in that stanza are among the 320 candidates chosen by the NFL: S Lawyer Milloy (New England), WR Muhsin Muhammad (Carolina) and S Brian Dawkins (Philadelphia).

2. CB Ronde Barber

Perhaps the best use of a third-round pick in team history, though that round also produced Carrier and Lynch on the above list. Barber will soon enter his 14th season as a Buccaneer, and he was recently named to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 2000s. The former Virginia playmaker saw infrequent action as a rookie in 1997 but exploded onto the scene in 1998 and hasn't slowed down since.

Barber is the Buccaneers' all-time leader with 37 interceptions and he is the only cornerback in the history of the NFL to have recorded at least 20 sacks and 20 interceptions in his career. He also ranks second in franchise history in both games played (193) and games started (184) and has never missed a game due to injury in his entire career.

Barber's defining characteristic as a player is likely his knack for the big play, as evidenced most famously in the interception return for a touchdown in Philadelphia that put the Buccaneers into the Super Bowl in 2002. He owns the team record for touchdowns by a defensive player (13) and that ranks among the best in league history, too.

There is just one other player in the 320 from the third round in 1997: Miami DE Jason Taylor. Other notable players from that same round include LB Dexter Coakley (Dallas), RB Duce Staley (Philadelphia), LB Derek Smith (Washington), DE Bertrand Berry (Indianapolis) and LB Mike Vrabel (Pittsburgh).

3. LB Derrick Brooks

The Buccaneers pulled off a bit of magic in the 1995 draft, trading up and down several times to land two players on this list of 10. The second was Brooks, whom the Bucs nabbed 28th overall after trading back up into the first round at the expense of several second-round picks. Brooks was a starter from Day One and, like Barber, pretty much never left the field after that.

From 1995 through 2008, his final year in the NFL, Brooks played every one of the Bucs' 224 games, starting 221 of them. He is the team's all-time leader in tackles by an enormous margin (2,196 to Barber's 1,158) and if it weren't for Barber, Brooks' seven scores would easily lead all defensive players in team history. Brooks is also the Bucs' all-time leader in Pro Bowl appearances, with 11, and he was also selected to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2000s.

In 2002, Brooks became the third Buccaneer player to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year (the other two are also on this list). He capped that year by clinching the Bucs' Super Bowl XXXVII win with an interception return for a touchdown.

The first round of the 1995 draft produced quite a few franchise-type players. Others included T Tony Boselli (Jacksonville), QB Steve McNair (Houston/Tennessee), QB Kerry Collins (Carolina), DE Kevin Carter (St. Louis), WR Joey Galloway (Seattle), Sapp, G Ruben Brown (Buffalo), DE Hugh Douglas (N.Y. Jets), CB Ty Law (New England) and T Korey Stringer (Minnesota). Boselli, Collins, Sapp, Brown and Law are all members of the field of 320, too.

4. WR Mark Carrier

Another home run in the third round, Carrier was drafted in the same year as Testaverde and successfully became the franchise quarterback's number-one receiver. Though Carrier caught just 26 passes as a rookie, he nearly hit the 1,000-yard mark in 1988 and in 1989 put together the finest receiving season in team annals. That year, he nabbed 86 passes for a team-record 1,422 yards and nine touchdowns, enough to earn him the first Pro Bowl berth ever by a Buccaneer wideout.

By the time Carrier's six seasons in Tampa were through (he would play another six years for Cleveland and Carolina), he would have 321 receptions for 5,018 yards and 27 touchdowns. Those totals still rank second, first and third, respectively, in team history.

Carrier was the first pick of that third round in 1987 and clearly one of the best players to come out of that group. One other member of the 320 was taken in that round: DT Jerry Ball by Detroit. Others of note include DT Henry Thomas (Minnesota), CB Clifford Hicks (L.A. Rams) and K Jeff Jaeger (Cleveland).

5. RB Warrick Dunn

Another product of a stacked 1997 draft, Dunn was nabbed 12th overall after the Bucs first traded down and then back up in the first round, netting extra picks in the process. Though he was considered undersized and therefore a bit of a gamble at #12, Dunn proved he could be just as productive on the pro level as he was at Florida State. In fact, the former Seminole is one of just six players in NFL history with at least 10,000 rushing yards and 500 receptions.

Dunn played half of his 12 seasons with the Buccaneers, adding a final year in 2008 after his first stint covered five campaigns (1997-2001) before his departure to Atlanta. In that time he ran for 4,986 yards, caught 306 passes for 2,704 yards and was named to two Pro Bowls. He ranks third in team history in both rushing and receptions.

Dunn was so effective out of the gate that he made the all-star game in his very first season, becoming the first Buccaneers rookie to be so honored. His all-around game peaked in 2000, when he totaled 1,555 combined rushing and receiving yards, third-most in team history to a pair of James Wilder campaigns (1984 and 1985).

The 1997 first round wasn't quite as packed with stars as that of 1995, though it started with St. Louis' choice of T Orlando Pace. Others of note include the Seattle pair of CB Shawn Springs and T Walter Jones, Ike Hilliard (N.Y. Giants), Tony Gonzalez (Kansas City) and Tarik Glenn (Indianapolis). Jones and Gonzalez are on the list of 320.

6. S John Lynch

Yet another third-round find, Lynch lasted that long in the draft because he was playing minor league baseball at the time and some teams wondered about his commitment to football. Lynch convinced Buccaneers Head Coach Sam Wyche that football was his one and only priority, and he went on to prove that over 15 wonderful NFL seasons, 11 in Tampa.

Lynch was miscast early as a sort of hybrid linebacker in the Bucs' pre-Dungy defensive scheme, though his hard-hitting style certainly fit the position. He then flourished upon Dungy's arrival, finally becoming a full-time starter and, shortly, one of the NFL's most feared safeties. After 11 seasons with the Bucs, he stood fifth in team history in games played (164), sixth in starts (132), fifth in tackles (973) and sixth in interceptions (23). He also became known as "The Closer" for his knack for clinching Buc victories with a big play at the end of regulation.

Lynch was selected to five Pro Bowls as a Buccaneer, and four more in his four years with the Denver Broncos. He was also a two-time AP All-Pro first team choice.

Lynch was actually selected near the very end of that third round in 1987. There were quite a few notable players that came out of that round, although only G Will Shields (Kansas City) is a fellow member of the list of 320. Others of note included LB Steve Tovar (Cincinnati), CB Ray Buchanan (Indianapolis), C Mike Compton (Detroit), K Jason Elam (Denver), WR Andre Hastings (Pittsburgh), RB Terry Kirby (Miami), DT Gilbert Brown (Minnesota), T Earl Dotson (Green Bay) and LB Mike Caldwell (Cleveland).

7. C Tony Mayberry

Mayberry has the impressive distinction of being the lowest-drafted player on the Buccaneers' list, as he was a fourth-round pick in 1990. In fact, the Bucs used a high fourth-rounder that year on TE Jesse Anderson and didn't nab Mayberry out of Wake Forest until the second-to-last pick of the round, 108th overall.

Mayberry started just one game as a rookie behind incumbent Steve Wilson but took over as the starter to open 1991 and didn't relinquish that spot for a decade. He would eventually start more games (145) than any other offensive player in team history except his long-time O-Line mate, Paul Gruber. Mayberry was also the first Buccaneer offensive lineman ever to make it to the Pro Bowl, being chosen as an all-star three consecutive times from 1997-99. His three Pro Bowls overall are third among offensive players in team annals to Alstott and TE Jimmie Giles.

Mayberry is the only member of the 320 selected players to be chosen in the fourth round in 1990. A few other memorable players came out of that round, including eventual Buccaneer TE Jackie Harris (Green Bay) as well as RB Chris Warren (Seattle) and QB Scott Mitchell (Miami).

8. DT Warren Sapp

As mentioned above, the Bucs got their hands on Sapp in the first round in 1995 after a series of draft-day trades. Tampa Bay moved back from seventh to 12th and landed perhaps the best defensive tackle of his generation.

After a three-sack rookie campaign, Sapp started terrorizing opposing quarterbacks in 1997, with 9.0 sacks that year and a total of 55.5 from 1997-2001. In 1999, he took home the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year honors after recording 12.5 sacks and leading the Bucs to the NFC Championship Game. The following season, he set a still-standing Buccaneer record with 16.5 sacks.

Sapp was selected for the Pro Bowl every year from 1997-2003 and he was a first-team all-pro choice for four straight seasons (1999-02) as well. Only Brooks has more Pro Bowls as a Buccaneer than Sapp's seven. Before playing four seasons in Oakland, Sapp finished his Buc career with 77.0 sacks, just under Selmon's franchise mark of 78.5.

The other stars drafted in the first round in 1995 are listed in Brooks' section.

9. DE Lee Roy Selmon

The Buccaneers got it right with the first college draft pick in franchise history, taking the Oklahoma pass-rusher who would become as beloved for his carriage off the field as his play on it. It is difficult to live up to the billing of the first overall pick, but Selmon did it with ease, becoming the first Buccaneer ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Selmon's rookie season was interrupted by injuries, but in 1977 he burst out with 110 tackles, five forced fumbles and a career-best 13.0 sacks. He made the first of his six Pro Bowls in 1979 after leading the Bucs to the NFC Championship Game in just the fourth year of the franchise's existence. Selmon was also named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1979.

In addition to his franchise sack record of 78.5, Selmon also owns the most forced fumbles (28.5) in team history and also finished with 742 tackles and 10 fumble recoveries. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.

Selmon wasn't the only player drafted in the first round in 1976 who ended up on the NFL's list of 320 top draft picks. The Saints got one at the third overall pick with RB Chuck Muncie and the Patriots followed two picks later with S Mike Haynes.

10. QB Vinny Testaverde

Like Selmon, Testaverde was the first overall pick in his draft, and the head of a huge Buccaneer draft class in 1987. Testaverde didn't quite put together the same caliber of career in Tampa as Selmon, though he did go on to play a total of 21 seasons in the NFL and finish among the league's all-time leaders in passing yards.

The first six of those 21 years were in a Buccaneer uniform, as the team tried to build around him as a franchise quarterback. That never came to pass, as the Bucs' streak of losing seasons stretched throughout Testaverde's tenure, but the former Miami passer did have some very prolific seasons. In 1989 he threw for 3,133 yards and 20 touchdowns, among the top single-season totals in team history. He also threw for 3,240 yards in 1988, his first as a full-time starter, and posted a 75.6 passer rating in 1990, his best as a Buccaneer.

Testaverde later played for Cleveland, Baltimore, the Jets, Dallas, New England and Carolina, finally finishing his career with the Panthers in 2007. He peaked statistically with Baltimore in 1996, throwing for 4,177 yards and 33 touchdowns, and in 1998 he went 12-1 as a starter with the Jets.

Cornerback Rod Woodson, chosen 10th overall by Pittsburgh, was the only other member of that 1987 first round to be chosen to the list of 320. Other notables from the round include LB Cornelius Bennett (Buffalo), WR Haywood Jeffires (Houston), T Harris Barton (San Francisco), Bruce Armstrong (New England) and QB Jim Harbaugh (Chicago).

**

Again, the Buccaneers' list of 10 players included in the balloting for the 75 Most Valuable Draft Picks of All Time was chosen by NFL editors. Buccaneer fans might have made some different choices, particularly if the relative value of the position of the draft picks is taken heavily into consideration. Also, if players are being judged strictly by their performance for the drafting team - again, the ground rules are not that codified by the league - then some other options might be more appealing.

Several come to mind to the author, most notably QB Doug Williams (1st round, 17th overall in 1978), WR Kevin House (2nd round, 49th overall in 1980), RB James Wilder (2nd round, 34th overall in 1981), CB Ricky Reynolds (2nd round, 36th overall in 1987), QB Trent Dilfer (1st round, 6th overall in 1994) and CB Donnie Abraham (third round, 71st overall in 1996).

Wilder, in particular, seems to belong on the list. He is the franchise's all-time leader in both rushing yards and receptions, and it's not particularly close on either count. His 1984 and 1985 seasons still rank as the top two in team history in both rushing yards and total net yards.

Still, those are the Bucs' 10. Do any of them have a chance to make the top 75, or the top 10, which will be revealed during the 2010 NFL Draft? The competition will certainly be fierce. Obviously, many of the greatest players in NFL history are on the list. Just to name a few: Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Dick Butkus, Anthony Munoz, Emmitt Smith, Steve Atwater, Lem Barney, Bart Starr, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Lawrence Taylor, John Riggins, Sammy Baugh, Bruce Matthews, Jerry Rice, Junior Seau and Deacon Jones.

To see the full list, visit NFL.com now and begin the voting process. The NFL is counting on you to determine the Most Valuable Draft Picks of All Time.  

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