One of seven players invited to NFL headquarters for the draft, Kenyatta Walker was the fifth Florida-school first-rounder for the Bucs since 1995
Kenyatta Walker, meet Joe Tafoya.
Come training camp, Walker, an offensive tackle, and Tafoya, a pass-rushing end, will have plenty of opportunities to become acquainted during one-on-one drills, as both are part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2001 draft class.
The Bucs' draft began, shockingly, with a trade up in the first round to acquire Walker, one of the highest-rated players on any team's board. It ended late in the seventh round with the choice of Tafoya, a sack-man from Arizona.
In between, seven other former NCAA players became Buccaneers, ranging from a guard from O-line factory Nebraska to the first Ivy League selection Buc draft history.
General Manager Rich McKay, in his final summary, insisted that the Buccaneers were very pleased with the team's second-day efforts, though not everything went according to plan.
McKay revealed that the Buccaneers had planned to use at least one of their four-through-seven round picks on a receiver, most likely a big wideout in Keyshawn Johnson's mold. However, the draft didn't develop in that direction, and the team had higher rated players at other positions in the final two rounds.
On the other hand, the early part of the second day fell into place well for Tampa Bay. When the clock began ticking on the Bucs' fourth round pick, number 117 overall, the war room was a bit divided over two players, S John Howell and G Russ Hochstein.
Eventually, the Bucs decided to go with Howell, hoping that Hochstein would still be available 34 picks later. Obviously, he was.
Meet the Press
Before Walker runs into Tafoya, he'll have an opportunity to meet the Tampa Bay media en masse.
Walker will drive down from Gainesville early Monday morning, in time to make a 2:00 p.m. press conference at Raymond James Financial in St. Petersburg. Buccaneers.com will carry a taped version of the press conference later in the afternoon.
Four Minutes to Glory
The University of South Florida football program, revived in 1997 in part by former Buccaneer Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon, had never produced an NFL draft pick before Sunday.
Even on the first day of the 2001 Draft, during which many expected tackle Kenyatta Jones to hear his name announced, the Bulls were shut out. Thus, Sunday was a day of anticipation for USF grads.
Luckily, they didn't have long to wait. At 11:07, New England made Jones the first pick of the second day, the opener in the fourth round. Apparently, the Patriots spent Saturday night scheming to get Jones, as they traded up with San Diego to acquire the 96th pick.
But the excitement was just beginning.
Cleveland needed very little of their allotted time to make the second pick of the round: defensive back Anthony Henry. That's USF DB Anthony Henry.
USF alums barely had time to celebrate that surprising double when Gene Washington, the league's director of football operations, stepped to the podium and offered up a bit of foreshadowing.
"This must be some kind of record," said Washington, just before announcing Arizona's pick, the third of the round. The Cardinals' selection was USF kicker Bill Gramatica.
The last of those three picks produced some ancillary excitement at one Buc place. Gramatica is, of course, the younger brother of Buccaneers Pro Bowl kicker Martin Gramatica.
The Bucs' Gramatica was a third-round pick in 1999. He had played high school football in LaBelle, Florida but shipped off to Kansas State for his college days. That move out of state probably erased his chances of going in the first round to the Buccaneers.
Though it is likely coincidental, the Buccaneers have seemed unusually preoccupied in the first round with players from the state of Florida since General Manager Rich McKay took over in 1995.
With the selection of Florida offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker, the Buccaneers have now used five of their last eight first-round picks on players from Florida, Florida State or Miami.
The in-state obsession began in '95 with the dual first-round selections of Miami DT Warren Sapp and Florida State LB Derrick Brooks. After crossing state lines in '96 for California DE Regan Upshaw and North Carolina DT Marcus Jones, the Bucs came back to the Sunshine State in '97 for another pair of first rounders, Florida State RB Warrick Dunn and Florida WR Reidel Anthony.
The Bucs didn't use a first-round pick in 1998, then turned to LSU in '99 to pick up DT Anthony McFarland. After trading its 2000 first-round picks to the New York Jets for Keyshawn Johnson, the Bucs picked up the Florida trend again this weekend with Walker.
Prior to 1995, the Buccaneers had only used one first-round choice in 20 years on a player from a Florida School, picking Miami's Vinny Testaverde with the first pick overall in 1987.
The Bucs' nine new players don't have lockers yet, but some already have jersey numbers. They are:
Kenyatta Walker – 67 Dwight Smith – 26 John Howell – 38 Russ Hochstein – 65 Jameel Cook – 43 Ellis Wyms – 96 Daunte Finger – 82
The Buccaneers actually jumped the gun by about 15 hours, adding a new member to the family Friday evening.
There were few scouting reports available on the newest Buc, but these are the vitals we have so far: height – 21 inches, weight – 7 pounds, 11 ounces.
Those are the numbers on Max Johnson, newly born son of QB Brad Johnson and his wife, Nikki. Born at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, Max is the couple's first son.
Safe to say Brad and Nikki weren't paying much attention to the NFL draft his weekend.