Many an NFL superstar has been born after the first round of the draft. John Lynch is a perfect example.
In 1993, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Lynch with the 26th pick of the third round, number 82 overall. In just a few years, the nine-time Pro Bowler could be headed into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
On Friday, Lynch – who went to five of those Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl during 11 stellar seasons in Tampa – could be in position to pass the torch to another future non-first-round Buccaneer star.
The NFL will conduct the second and third rounds of the 2011 draft on Friday evening, and the second round promises to be especially entertaining. Each of the league's 32 teams will have one of their legendary former players on hand to announce their pick in that frame. (Teams that do not possess a second-round pick will have their third-rounder announced by the visiting legend.)
For the Buccaneers, that's Lynch, the cerebral and hard-hitting safety who was one of the NFL's most feared defenders during his 15-season career. In November of 2008, Lynch announced his retirement from the league at a press conference held at One Buccaneer Place, following four seasons with the Denver Broncos.
In his 11 Buccaneer seasons, Lynch played in 164 games with 132 starts and amassed 973 tackles, fifth-most in franchise history. His 23 interceptions also ranks sixth in team annals, and he earned the nickname, "The Closer," from long-time Bucs Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin, a nod to Lynch's penchant for game-clinching plays.
In 2002, Lynch helped the Buccaneers win the first Super Bowl title in franchise history, contributing 96 tackles, three interceptions and 12 passes defensed. He was part of the league's top-ranked defense that season, overall and against the pass, and he was also selected as a finalist for the NFL's prestigious Man of the Year award.
Lynch is no stranger to the microphone, either. Since retiring from his playing career, he has launched a career in the booth, providing color commentary for NFL games for NBC.
Lynch and his fellow guest announcers will bring another level of star power to this year's draft. Among the other former stars on hand will be Anthony Munoz (announcing Cincinnati's pick), Richard Dent (Chicago), Willie Lanier (Kansas City), Willie Roaf (New Orleans), Franco Harris (Pittsburgh), Marshall Faulk (St. Louis), Cortez Kennedy (Seattle), Andre Reed (Buffalo) and Jim Taylor (Green Bay).
Established stars such as these will have the privilege of formally welcoming a promising newcomer to his new NFL home. While the majority of the draft's intense coverage focuses on the first round, the second and third rounds on Friday could produce just as many cornerstone players.
For instance, Philadelphia guest picker Troy Vincent might get to announce a name as eventually significant as wide receiver DeSean Jackson or running back LeSean McCoy, the Eagles' second-round selections in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Other rapidly-emerging second-round picks in recent years include Patriots' linebacker Brandon Spikes, Rams linebacker James Laurinitis, Bills safety Jairus Byrd, Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, Saints cornerback Tracy Porter and many more.
The Buccaneers had no second-round pick in 2009 but last year grabbed both defensive tackle Brian Price and wide receiver Arrelious Benn. Despite ending the 2010 season on injured reserve, both Price and Benn appeared to be very promising players for the Buccaneers in 2011 and beyond. Tampa Bay's management hopes to hit just as squarely with its second-round pick this year, and Buccaneer fans will learn who that player is directly from the lips of one of their all-time favorite players, John Lynch.