Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Building Through the Draft

Barring trades, Tampa Bay will make its highest draft pick in 23 years next April…The Bucs are slotted third in each round of the 2010 NFL Draft and possess, at worst, three of the first 44 selections overall

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The Bucs drafted QB Vinny Testaverde first overall in 1987 but haven't picked in the top three since

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will pick third in the 2010 NFL Draft.

They'll also pick 35th and, depending upon the results of a coin flip about two months from now, either 42nd or 44th.

Before the NFL's new three-day draft is over this April, the Buccaneers will make a total of 10 selections, though trades could raise or lower that number in the end.  Whatever the final picks tally, the team hopes it will be a franchise-altering three days.

The St. Louis Rams will pick first in 2010 and the Detroit Lions will choose second, flipping the order of the first two picks from the 2009 draft.  The Rams won game this season and the Lions two, meaning Tampa Bay's 3-13 record translates into the third slot in the order.  Because there were no other 3-13 teams this season, the Buccaneers will pick third in each round.  That means they will also make the 35th overall pick early in the second round.

The entire 2010 first-round draft order can be found below.

Since the Buccaneers own Chicago's second-round pick in the upcoming draft as a result of the midseason Gaines Adams trade, they were obviously interested in where the Bears would be slotted, as well.  So far, they can only pinpoint

selection to one of two slots, either 42nd or 44th, at least until a coin flip between Chicago and the Jacksonville Jaguars that will take place at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine at the end of February.

Each year, the NFL's draft order is determined by the previous season's standings, beginning with the teams with the lowest winning percentages and continuing on through the Super Bowl champions.  Any teams that finish with identical records are grouped together, and then the order within that group is determined by their respective strengths of schedule.

Strength of schedule refers to the combined winning percentage of all the teams that team faced the previous year, and the team with the lowest strength of schedule picks first in each group.  After the teams are ordered within their group in this manner, they then rotate up each round, with the team that was first in the group moving to last and every other team moving up one slot.

There is no additional tiebreaking statistic within the groups, so any teams that have identical records

identical strengths of schedule then determine their draft order with a coin flip.  And that is why the Bucs will not know the exact slot of their second second-round pick until the Combine.

The Bears, Jaguars and Miami Dolphins all finished with 7-9 records in 2009, grouping them together between picks 10-12, and the Bears and Jaguars each had a .496 strength of schedule.  Miami's .559 strength of schedule means they will pick 12th in the first round.  The Bears and Jaguars will flip to see who is 10th or 11th in the first round.

If the Bears win that coin toss, they will pick 10th, which also means they will rotate to the back of that three-team group in the second round and pick 44th overall.  If the Bears lose the flip, they will pick 11th in the first round and then rotate

to the top of the group in Round Two, picking 42nd.

The Buccaneers own 10 picks in the upcoming draft due to a series of trades.  In addition to the Adams move, the Buccaneers also traded tight end Alex Smith to the New England Patriots this past offseason, garnering a fifth-round pick.  The team's trade of DE Marques Douglas before the 2008 season, picking up a seventh-round selection in both last year's draft and the one coming up.  And the swap of quarterback Luke McCown to the Jacksonville Jaguars this past September netted another conditional pick that has yet to be slotted into a certain round.  The Bucs hold their own pick in each round except for the fifth; that was the second of two selections, along with a 2009 second-rounder, that went to Cleveland in the trade for tight end Kellen Winslow.

At the moment, the Bucs have five of the first 99 picks, although that will change to a small degree when the league awards its compensatory picks in the spring.  Tampa Bay could add picks in this manner or not — it's based on net gains and losses in the previous year's free agency period — but either way the overall slots of the picks after the second round will be affected by the compensatory selections slotted between rounds.

Here is the entire order as it stands now:

^ To be decided by coin flip

  • Subject to playoffs

If the Buccaneers remain in their #3 slot in the first round, they will be executing their highest draft pick in 23 years.  Tampa Bay picked first overall in the 1987 draft, selecting University of Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde.  Since, the team's highest picks have been at #4 overall, where they got tackle Paul Gruber in 1988, linebacker Keith McCants in 1990 and Adams in 2007.

The only other times Tampa Bay has picked higher than fourth were a trio of drafts in which they owned the top overall spot: 1976 (defensive end Lee Roy Selmon), 1977 (running back Ricky Bell) and 1986 (running back Bo Jackson).

The league will actually require three coin flips at the Combine, as the Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans are knotted at the 16th and 17th slots and the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans are even at the 19th and 20th slots.

The final draft order will also be affected by what occurs in the upcoming playoffs, and in a more complete manner than in years past.  Previously, only the Super Bowl winners and losers were moved out of their original draft-order groupings; now, each advancement in the playoffs moves a team down the list.

As always, the league champion will pick 32nd and the runner-up 31st.  Now, the two conference runners-up will pick 29th and 30th (order determined by the usual draft method); the losers of the Divisional Playoff Games will pick 25th through 28th; and the Wild Card round losers will pick 21st through 25th.

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