Trivia? Check. Buccaneers? Check. A new day? Check. Looks like we've got all the ingredients for another round of Daily Bucs Trivia. Let's toss 'em in a bowl and see what we get.
As you probably know by now if you're here, I've been posting a Bucs-related trivia question every workday in this thoroughly weird month of April. The question goes up each day at 10:00 a.m. ET and then I come back and update it with the answer at 4:00 p.m. ET. There's no prize, just the pride you'll get from knowing your team and its history well. And this isn't multiple choice; you'll have to figure out the answer for yourself.
As you also know, the 2020 NFL Draft is now just eight days away. Let's celebrate its imminent arrival by looking back at the Buccaneers' 44-year history of participating in the "Player Selection Meeting," as the NFL likes to call it. We're going to be comparing all 44 draft classes to see which one had the biggest impact in one very specific category.
Bucs Daily Trivia Question, April 15:
Which of the Buccaneers' 44 draft classes, from 1976 through 2019, eventually produced the most combined games played for the team?
So the idea is, if you take every player drafted by Tampa Bay in a given year and then add up the number of games each draftee played as a Buccaneer during his career, which group would have the highest total? And now that I've asked the question I'm going to do something you normally don't see in a trivia quiz: I'm going to immediately give you the answer.
See, the top spot is too obvious and I know many of you would have guessed it in about 10 seconds. Ronde Barber was drafted in 1997, and since Barber played somewhere around 46,000 games for the franchise (I'm estimating here), the 1997 class is going to ride that all the way to the top. I'll give you the accurate 1997 total and the players involved when I reveal today's entire answer later.
View behind the scenes pictures of Lavonte David, Chris Godwin and Devin White from the Buccaneers' new uniform reveal video.
That means the real task here is to determine which draft class is second on the list…and it's a relatively close second to Barber's group. Don't assume you can just pick the drafts that produced, say, Derrick Brooks or Paul Gruber or John Lynch. One of those might be right, or it might be a draft that simply had a whole bunch of players stick for a good amount of time.
When I reveal the answer later, I'll also give you the drafts at the bottom of the list (fewest total games played produced), so you can try to figure that out if you want extra credit. To help you out, here's a link to the Buccaneers' year-by-year draft picks on the always helpful Drafthistory.com. Oh, and this is probably obvious, but the most recent draft classes can't really be included because those groups haven't yet had the opportunity to play a bunch of games yet. Plus, all the drafts from 2012 through 2019 still have one or more players on the roster who can add to those classes' totals. I did add up their games played totaled though, and some of those details will be included in the answer later.
Come back at 4:00 p.m. ET for the answers!
Answer: As I revealed earlier, the actual answer to this question is the 1997 draft, which is headlined by Ronde Barber's team-record 241 games played, all of them as a Buccaneer. But that draft also produced Warrick Dunn (91), Alshermond Singleton (87), Jerry Wunsch (80), Reidel Anthony (73), Frank Middleton (63) and Patrick Hape (61). That's a whopping 696 games played overall.
What I tasked you with was finding the draft class that would place second on the list and here's that answer: 1987.
That is, of course, the Vinny Testaverde draft, though Testaverde did not make the most starts as a Buccaneer out of that class. He was fourth, with 76, after Ricky Reynolds (105), Ron Hall (100) and Mark Carrier (88). Also in this class was Winston Moss (60), Bruce Hill (57), Harry Swayne (44) and Curt Jarvis (38). But wait, there's more: Henry Rolling (21), Don Smith (21), Steve Bartalo (9), Mike Simmonds (5) and Don Graham (2).
It helped that the draft was still 12 rounds long then, though through the years the Bucs (like most teams) only occasionally drafted a player who made the team in those later rounds. What really made the difference was that the Buccaneers ended up with three second-round picks, three fourth-round picks and two fifth-round picks. Plus, this was a team with a new head coach (Ray Perkins) and an overall record of 4-28 the previous two seasons. There was clearly plenty of room for draft picks to make the roster.
In case you're interested, here are the next three drafts that produced the most games played for the Buccaneers, along with some of the principle players in each class:
- 1993, with 517 (John Lynch, Chidi Ahanotu, Horace Copeland)
- 1976, with 492 (Lee Roy Selmon, Dewey Selmon, Steve Wilson)
- 1988, with 472 (Paul Gruber, Reuben Davis, Lars Tate)
Where is the most famous Bucs draft, you ask? Yes, the 1995 draft class did begin with not one but two future Hall-of-Famers in the first round, but not much else came of it. Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp combined to play in 364 games as Buccaneers, but the quartet of Melvin Johnson, Wardell Rouse, Clifton Abraham and Steve Ingram were responsible for just 67 more between them. That's 431 games played, which is good for seventh on the list.
And at the bottom, not including the draft classes from which there are still players on the roster in 2020? That would be 2002.
Again, context is key. The Buccaneers didn't have first or second-round picks that year because those were part of the compensation to the Raiders for the right to hire Head Coach Jon Gruden. Look at that way, it was worth it. Then the team whiffed on wide receiver Marquise Walker (zero NFL games played) in the third round and running back Travis Stephens (one NFL game played) in the fourth round, leaving only Jermaine Phillips as a player of consequence out of this draft. Their combined total was 110 games played for Tampa Bay, which is still second-lowest on this list if you do include the most recent drafts. In contrast, the 2018 class has produced 188 starts in just two seasons, while the 2019 class logged 96 in its first year.
Just above 2002 at the bottom of the list (not including recent years) are 1989, 1978 and 2000. The '89 draft started with Broderick Thomas (80 games as a Buc) but in the next four rounds produced Danny Peebles, Anthony Florence and Jamie Lawson and topped out at 145 games. It's okay if you just said, 'Who?' The 1978 draft landed Doug Williams but not much more, in part because the Bucs traded a bunch of their picks that year for veteran players on other teams. It's final total was 163 games. The 2000 draft would probably be a lot higher on this list if the Bucs hadn't traded both of their first-round picks to the Jets for Keyshawn Johnson. That left it up to Cosey Coleman, Nate Webster, David Gibson and Joe Hamilton to combine for 169 games played.