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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hitting 21

Tampa Bay’s first-round slot in the upcoming draft has produced decent results over the past decade


Minnesota WR Randy Moss has been one of the most prolific of a good run of offensive players chosen with the 21st pick

Maybe Dennis Green ought to head to Vegas.

The Minnesota Vikings' head coach and vice president of football operations has hit 21 better than any executive in the league over the last decade – when it comes to the annual draft, that is.

Green's NFC Central rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, own the 21st pick in the first round in this year's draft. Barring a trade up or down – and, yes, the Bucs have made a trade involving a first-round pick in five of the last six springs – Tampa Bay will exercise that pick about five hours into the first day of this April's selection meeting.

And that date? Yep, the 21st.

A good luck omen? Hopefully. Tampa Bay would like to turn that pick into an immediate impact player, and they would be thrilled to match Green's success at 21.

Of the last 10 players picked at the 21st overall spot, two are (or were) bona fide NFL stars, and both are (or were) Vikings. In 1993, Green's crew selected Ohio State running back Robert Smith; five years later, they added another piece to the offensive puzzle with Marshall wide receiver Randy Moss. The very next fall, those two helped the Vikings score an NFL-record 556 points. Moss remains one of the league's most prolific receivers; Smith recently retired unexpectedly after breaking the Vikings' all-time rushing mark with 6,818 yards.

That offensive theme has held strong for the past 10 years, albeit not always with that much success. Nine of the last 10 selections at the 21st slot have been offensive players, including four running backs, three receivers and two tackles. The only defender to break up the string was Notre Dame defensive tackle Renaldo Wynn, chosen 21st overall by Jacksonville in 1997.

Here's a rundown of the last decade's Lucky 21 Picks:

YearNFL TeamPlayerPos.
2000Kansas CitySylvester MorrisWR
1999ArizonaL.J. SheltonT
1998MinnesotaRandy MossWR
1997JacksonvilleRenaldo WynnDT
1996SeattlePete KendallT
1995ChicagoRashaan SalaamRB
1994DetroitJohnnie MortonWR
1993MinnesotaRobert SmithRB
1992New OrleansVaughn DunbarRB
1991Kansas CityHarvey WilliamsRB

Like Minnesota, Kansas City has slid into that slot twice in the last decade and used it for a running back-receiver pair, though Williams and Morris were chosen too far apart to be teammates. Williams played for most of the decade with the Chiefs and Oakland, even converting briefly to a tight end with the Raiders. Morris, one of five receivers taken in the first round last year, had a fine rookie season with 48 receptions for 678 yards and three touchdowns.

Overall, this list was rated by a Buc personnel staffer as rather respectable, which is a fairly good track record for a low first-round slot. Of course, any position in the round is bound to turn up a 'bust' or two, and Dunbar and Salaam are probably this group's least accomplished members.

Shelton took over the Cardinals' left tackle position and started 14 games there in 2000, but it is probably too early to make a determination of his value. Though drafted as a tackle, Kendall has clearly established himself as one of the game's better guards and is now a free agent after five seasons in Seattle. Morton has racked up 392 receptions over seven seasons with Detroit, good for third on the team's all-time list.

Statistically, Tampa Bay's offense would certainly appear to need more attention than its defense, though one major addition has already occurred with the signing of QB Brad Johnson. Also, one must remember that the Bucs generally follow a 'best-available-player' strategy when making first-round decisions. Still, that history of offensive success at number 21 is certainly tempting, and the Bucs wouldn't mind borrowing a little Green, so to speak.

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