Photos of the Buccaneers' complete roster.
It's the eve of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2017 training camp, which will provide Buccaneer fans with countless storylines. In the meantime, we have a couple more fan-submitted questions before the offseason ends, one about draft picks and one about end zone celebrations. Let's get to it.
Note: The One Buc Mailbag runs weekly during the offseason. This will be the final edition of 2017, with training camp set to begin on Friday. However, fans may continue to submit questions via Twitter to @ScottSBucs (#BucsMailbag), through a message on the Buccaneers Official Facebook Page or via email at *firstname.lastname@example.org. Submitted questions may be answered on Insider Live with Casey Phillips and Scott Smith.
*1. Short-Term Draft Picks? Scott, I saw on Twitter today that all the Buccaneers draftpicks will be able to start camp on time-no injury problems. I guess my first question is if that's true. I hope so. I liked the Beckwith pick and think he could really give us a great linebacker group with Kwon and Lavonte. I'm glad he's going to get to start on time (if he is). But that's not my real question. Seeing that made me think about the fact that there are 5-10 new players drafted every year and they can't all make it every time or the roster turnover would be huge. Or am I wrong about that? Can you tell me how often draft picks DON'T make it on the roster at all? Thanks and I'll see you at camp! I'll be the guy wearing the Throwback Mike Alstott jersey! Mark R. from Wesley ChapelWell, to your first question, yes that is true and it sure is good news. I would call it a pleasant surprise. The Buccaneers had hoped that Kendell Beckwith, Jeremy McNichols and Justin Evans would all be fully cleared to practice when camp began, but that doesn't mean it was a guarantee for any of them. Beckwith, in particular, seemed like a question mark for the start of camp when he was drafted, thanks to his November knee injury, but he personally claimed he'd be ready for Day One, and he was right. This should help him compete with Devante Bond and others for the starting strongside linebacker spot, which is open with the departure of Daryl Smith.
In fact, barring more roster news in the next 18 hours or so, it looks like the only player who wasn't cleared for the first practice of camp was defensive end Jacquies Smith. The Buccaneers put Smith on the Active/PUP list on Wednesday, but even that shouldn't necessarily be considered terrible news. Players can come off the Active/PUP list at any time and start practicing, and there's a chance Smith won't miss much time at all.
As for your main reason for writing in, it's not terribly unusual for draft picks not to make the team. It is terribly unusual for first, second or third-round picks to miss the cut, and even fourth-round casualties are rare. I suspect you knew this, Mark, and would like an overall picture.
First, do you mind if we alter your question just a bit from "making the team" to "playing for the team?" There have been 403 college draft picks in team history (including one supplemental draft pick in 1987) and I'm not going to pretend I can remember (or ever even knew) what happened to all of them. A rookie in 1978 might have made the team for one game then been cut and in looking through the records it might appear like he was never on the roster. Or how about recent draft pick Kenny Bell, who spent his rookie season on injured reserve and then didn't make it the next year, should he count?
It's a lot easier (if not necessarily as accurate) to define making it as playing in at least one regular-season game. I would argue that the final picture this will paint will be pretty close to what you were looking for, Mark. Sure, there will be a bunch of guys who count because they played in just one or two career games, but they'll balance the guys who made the team and were on the roster for at least an entire season (a la QB Mike Ford in 1981) but never got into a game and thus don't count.
Also, I'm going to assume you meant Buccaneer draft picks only. That's probably the case, and even if it's not there's no way I can do the research for all 32 teams.
How about we start with some recent draft classes, since I should be able to do those off the top of my head? Last year, six of the Bucs' seven draft picks made the team and played in at least one regular-season game. The exception was tight end Dan Vitale, a sixth-rounder and the Bucs' last pick of that year, who did end up on Tampa Bay's practice squad before the Cleveland Browns signed him to their active roster. That brings up another worthwhile point: Not "making it" with the Buccaneers doesn't mean some of these players never made it at all.
Bell was part of the 2015 draft class, a fifth-rounder. He, sixth-rounder Kaelin Clay and seventh-rounder Joey Iosefa never played in a game for the Bucs but, again, all three are still chasing their NFL dreams. Clay played for Baltimore and Iosefa for the Patriots, while Bell was on the Ravens' practice squad and will go to camp with them this summer.
Five of the six players drafted by Tampa Bay in 2014 have seen action with the team, the exception being fifth-round guard Kadeem Edwards. Edwards is one of those tricky ones because he was on the roster his whole rookie season but never got into a game. You could definitely say he made it for that reason, but it's all of these types of situations that made me seek a more restrictive definition.
The 2013 draft class was the most recent one in which every player selected by the Buccaneers played at least one regular-season game for the team, although it was a brief stay for defensive end Steven Means.
Now let's take this round by round, and we're obviously excluding this year's picks since they have not yet had a chance to make it or not. Only one first-round pick in franchise history never played for the team, and that wasn't because he was not good enough to make it. That would be Bo Jackson, and you probably know the story. If not, I wrote about it in last week's mailbag. Long story short: Jackson had said he would never play for Tampa Bay if they took him first overall, which they did, and he backed up his words by going to play professional baseball instead.
That's one out of 37 first-round picks that never played for the team, which means 97.3% of them did. You would expect it to be 100%, and it took one of the strangest draft tales in NFL history for it not to be. Moving on…Second Round: The Bucs have made 46 second-round picks, and all of them have played for the team. So that's 100%. Among the notable picks that didn't really work out in the long run were WR Dexter Jackson (2008), S Sabby Piscitelli (2007) and DE Booker Reese (1982).
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Third Round: the Bucs have made 41 third-round picks (including the supplemental pick of Dan Sileo in 1987) and 38 of them have played for the team. That's a hit rate of 92.7%. The three who did not were T Chris Colmer in 2005, WR Marquise Walker in 2002 and LB Steve Maughan in 1976. Colmer was on the roster as a rookie but his career was cut short by the return of an illness he had battled in college; he would pass away at the age of 30. Walker was on IR most of his rookie year and was traded to Arizona for RB Thomas Jones in the following offseason. A terrible pick (he never played a down in the NFL) but a great trade. Maughan had injury problems his first year and then also struggled with an illness.
Fourth Round: The Bucs have made 45 fourth-round picks, and 34 of them have played for the team. That's still 75.6%, but we are starting to see some attrition here. The most recent fourth-rounder who never played for the team was CB Alan Zemaitis in 2006. He did make the roster but he never played a down in the NFL.
Fifth Round: The Bucs have made 38 fifth-round picks, and 29 of them have played for the team. It's interesting that the 76.3% hit rate here is just a bit higher than the fourth round. That suggests that fifth round picks are almost equal in value to fourth-rounders, but I think if we were looking at this more broadly – which picks really made it and had an impact – there would be more separation. Bell and Edwards, described above, were the most recent fifth-rounders not to play for the team. One of the more notables was wide receiver Larry Brackins, the very rare pick from a juco (Pearl River Community College) and a flyer that definitely did not work out. Never played in the NFL.
Sixth Round:** The Bucs have made 42 sixth-round picks, and 30 of them have played for the team. We're still at 71.4%, and the team has had a handful of fairly good hits in that round in the last 15 years – Ellis Wyms, Torrie Cox, Bruce Gradkowski, Adam Hayward, Geno Hayes and Keith Tandy. Devante Bond could be next on that list.
Seventh Round:The Bucs have made 54 seventh-round picks, and 28 of them have played for the team. That's a noticeable drop-off to 51.9%. If it seems impressive that over half of the Bucs' seventh-round picks have played for the team, it's also massively misleading. A great many of those had very brief stays with the team, even just a game or two. Some relatively recent examples: Michael Smith, Marcus Hamilton, Kenneth Darby, Charles Bennett. Don't fret if you don't immediately remember those Buccaneers. The Bucs did have a nice seventh-round run in 2009 and 2010, getting some decent contributions from Sammie Stroughter, E.J. Biggers, Erik Lorig, Dekoda Watson and Cody Grimm. Nothing much since then.
In 1993, the draft was eight rounds long and prior to that it lasted 12 rounds. In 1976, the Buccaneers' first year taking part in the college draft, it was – gulp! – 17 rounds long. As such:
Eighth Round: The Bucs have made 17 eighth-round picks, and 6 of them (35.3%) have played for the team. I think we're seeing why they shortened the draft. Marty Carter is probably the most notable name here.
Ninth Round: The Bucs have made 18 ninth-round picks, and 6 of them (33.3%) have played for the team. There are actually two pretty impressive picks here: Reuben Davis and Gerald Carter. Also worth noting was the 1986 ninth-round selection of punter Tommy Barnhardt. He didn't make the team that year but caught on with Chicago and New Orleans in 1987, starting a long and successful career that eventually circled back around to Tampa a decade later for a three-year stint (1996-98).
READ: 5 PREDICTIONS FOR TRAINING CAMPTenth Round: The Bucs have made 17 10th-round picks, and 5 of them (29.4%) have played for the team. K Donald Igwebuike is in this group.
Eleventh Round: The Bucs have made 17 11th-round picks, and 6 of them (35.3%) have played for the team. A representative example would be 1984's Blair Kiel, a quarterback who never threw a pass for the Bucs but is on the list because he served as a holder on kicks for a handful of games. More knowledgeable Buc fans might recognize Mazio Royster, Terry Anthony and Johnny Ray Smith.
Twelfth Round: The Bucs have made 19 12th-round picks, and 6 of them (31.6%) have played for the team. The big name here, and maybe the best value pick in team history, is defensive tackle David Logan in 1979.
Rounds 13-17: The Bucs have made five picks in these rounds, all in 1976, and none of them made it. We barely knew ye, Brad Jenkins, Carl Roaches, Bob Dzierzak, Tommy West and Jack Berry.
Add it all up and you have 396 draft picks prior to this year, of which 270 played in at least one regular-season game for the Buccaneers. By those very lax standards, that's a 68.2% hit rate. Only four out of 124 picks in the first three rounds never played for the team, and three of those four (all but Bo Jackson) at least hung around the team for a season. Even fourth and fifth-round picks have about a 75% chance of seeing action for the team, and some of those that don't will at least spend some time on the roster or the practice squad.
All of which is to say, you can probably expect most of this year's draft class to be around this fall. And that kind of turnover is actually pretty normal.
2. Cutlass Celebration? Great job on the website, as always, Scott! I'm wondering if — with the recent relaxing of the rules re: endzone celebrations — any of our players are open to suggestions. If so, I'd like to suggest a pantomime of the player dramatically reaching across his waist to his opposite hip to unsheath a buccaneer's cutlass, then carving out "T" and "B" in the air, perhaps followed by his jersey number.
If this doesn't "cut it," perhaps you'd care to invite the rest of your readers to submit scoring celebration ideas. Could be interesting, whether or not any of them are actually adopted. Also, as a five-time winner of your fantastic Draft Contest I'd like to know if there's a chance it will return. Regards, Don Lee St. PeteThank you, Don. Haven't heard from you in a while. I remember your draft contest prowess well, though "five-time winner" seems like a slight exaggeration. Am I wrong about that. As for the return of the contest, I kind of doubt that. It was fun for a good stretch but it's been retired for a while now. I mean, the Terminator movie franchise was fun back in the day but you wouldn't expect Arnold Schwarzenegger to suit up as a cyborg again in the 2010s, right? (Wait, he did what?)*Anyway, I wouldn't count on it, but I'm glad you enjoyed it while it was around. READ: DICK VITALE EXCITED FOR BUCCANEERS*
Okay, as for your celebration suggestion, I like it. It sound very theatrical, not to mention thematic. But there's one major problem: I think it would be illegal. The end zone celebration rules were, as you said, thankfully relaxed this offseason, but one thing that is still not allowed is the mimicry of weapons. I know it sounds a little silly to apply that to an imaginary sword carving out letters, but don't be so sure. Players like Brandin Cooks and Josh Norman are being advised that their bow-and-arrow celebration is still against the rules. I hate to be a buzzkill, and I really do like your suggestion, but I wouldn't chance it with a sword.* *If fans want to send in celebration ideas, that's fine with me, but I'm not sure how much traction we'd really get with the players. I think this is something a player would want to come up with on his own, something that feels personal to him. Cooks, for instance, used to shoot the arrow as a reference to a favorite Bible passage. I'm guessing the guys are going to have a lot of fun with the new rule and they aren't going to need much help coming up with some very humorous celebrations.