On Friday, new Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves held up his #28 jersey for the first time. Hargreaves was granted his first NFL jersey for a ceremonial unveiling at the introductory press conference for the team's first-round pick. Over the next two days, the Buccaneers proceeded to draft six more players, and those new Bucs didn't have to wait long to get their jersey numbers, either.
Like Hargreaves, the Bucs' other 2016 draftees had an opportunity to request their numbers, and these are the results:
- DE Noah Spence: 57
- K Roberto Aguayo: 19
- DB Ryan Smith: 29
- OL Caleb Benenoch: 77
- LB Devante Bond: 59
- FB Dan Vitale: 33
As noted on Friday, Hargreaves has a good chance to be the most notable defensive player to wear #28 in franchise history, though running back Warrick Dunn first made that number memorable for Buccaneer fans. Likewise, most of Hargreaves' fellow draftees could blaze new trails for their respective Tampa Bay jerseys.
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While defensive ends most commonly wear numbers in the 70s or 90s, they are also allowed to choose numbers in the 50-59 range. Spence, who wore single-digit numbers during his college days at Ohio State and Eastern Kentucky, will mostly be following linebackers when it comes to Buccaneer history. David Lewis was the first Tampa Bay player to wear #57 for an extended period of time, starting 64 games for the first standout Buccaneers defense from 1977-81. LB Keith Browner is the only other long-term starter to wear #57 in Buc annals, though most recently special teams ace Adam Hayward owned it for seven solid seasons.
Aguayo made a somewhat unusual number choice, too, though it was unsurprising given that he wore #19 during his incredible collegiate run at Florida State. Kickers can wear numbers from 1-19 but most end up in single digits. As such, the #19 was barely touched for most of team history before wide receivers got the option to adopt numbers in the teens in the past decade. Wide receivers Ike Hilliard and Mike Williams are the most notable former Bucs to wear that number; no Bucs kicker has chosen it before.
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On the other hand, #29 is a very common number for defensive backs, though it doesn't have a particularly distinct place in Buccaneer history. By far the most productive former Tampa Bay player to wear #29 was cornerback Ricky Reynolds from 1987-93. Most recently it belonged to cornerback Leonard Williams. S Kenny Gant, who was a special teams dynamo and a colorful figure nicknamed "The Shark," also wore #29 in the mid-90s.
Benenoch chose a number that has most frequently been worn by defensive linemen in Buccaneer history. Brad Culpepper held that spot for the last four of his six years (1996-99) in Tampa as he started 80 games alongside Hall of Fame DT Warren Sapp. DT Mark Wheeler had a good run in #77 right before Culpepper.
The #59 jersey has been worn by a number of former Buccaneer linebackers, many of them middle 'backers like Mason Foster and Jamie Duncan. Foster had it for four years from 2011-14, coincidentally making 59 starts in that number. The first Buc linebacker to lock down #59 for an extended period of time was Andy Hawkins, from 1980-83, after which it went to linebacker Kevin Murphy from 1986-91.
The top fullback in team history – and one of the most popular Bucs ever – wore #40. The Bucs haven't given out Mike Alstott's number since his retirement so Vitale will attempt to make #33 just as popular. That was the number worn during the franchise's first decade by safety Mark Cotney. Since then, no Buc player has had an extended run in #33.
(Note: A previous version of this article indicated that linebacker Devante Bond had been assigned jersey #50. His number was subsequently changed to 59.)