QB Chris Simms was the last player picked on the first day of the 2003 NFL Draft, nine-and-a-half hours after it began
ETA: 3:45 p.m. ET.
Barring a trade down, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a rookie first-rounder on the roster for the first time since 2001 by that time on April 24, the first day of the 2004 NFL Draft.
The NFL Draft is easily the most popular and intensely scrutinized selection process in professional sports. Each year, it dominates the American sports landscape for one very long and intrigue-heavy weekend; this year, it kicks off at noon ET on Saturday, April 24.
The first of the draft's seven rounds understandably draws the most attention, and takes by far the most time. Since each team is allotted 15 minutes for its selection, and there are 32 picks in the first round, it could conceivably take eight hours to finish the first frame. In reality, the first round took just over five hours last year and the first three rounds came to an end at approximately 9:30 when the Bucs picked Chris Simms.
So, while Tampa Bay management could have to wait until 3:45 to make the 15th overall pick, they are more likely to go on the clock between 2:00 and 2:30 p.m. After two years of being shut out of the first round, the Bucs are simply happy to be back in the game.
As is Buccaneers.com. Here in Draft Central, the team's official web site will provide wire-to-wire coverage of the draft, complete with a full-league draft tracker and profiles of every player picked by Tampa Bay. On Saturday and Sunday, all press conferences held at team headquarters will be carried live on the site, and additional, exclusive interviews with team executives will enhance the coverage. Elsewhere in Draft Central, one can find links to NFL content, Buccaneer draft history, a running blog on draft weekend and Pick10, the official Buccaneers.com draft contest.
It should be an exciting weekend, for the Buccaneers and the NFL as a whole.
Here are some other notable facts regarding the 2004 NFL Draft, which is swiftly approaching:
- Thanks to the recent awarding of 32 compensatory picks (based on 2003 free agency losses), there will be a total of 255 selections made over the draft's seven rounds. It would have been 256, but the Houston Texans exercised a second-round pick they had received from Oakland in last year's supplemental draft, grabbing Georgia Tech RB Tony Hollings. The Bucs will not have the honor of selecting 'Mr. Irrelevant,' the last player taken in the draft, but they will pick near the end, making selection number 252. * In the second round, each team will have 10 minutes to make a pick. The time limit for all picks in rounds three through seven is the same: five minutes. On Sunday, the draft begins at 11:00 a.m. ET. * The Bucs will have a total of eight picks (see upper left column of Draft Central). Three of those eight picks are seventh-rounders, as the team picked up an extra selection from Indianapolis in exchange for David Gibson in 2002 and was awarded another one among the compensatory picks. The NFL Draft was shortened to seven rounds in 1994. Beginning with that year's draft, the Bucs have made 17 seventh-round picks in 10 years, and six of those 17 have made the active roster and played in at least one game. Those six are C Jim Pyne (1994), G/T Stephen Ingram (1995), CB Reggie Rusk (1996), WR Darnell McDonald (1999), QB Joe Hamilton (2000) and CB Tim Wansley (2002). Only Pyne and Wansley played more than a handful of games. * The Bucs' 15th position in the first round has been a popular spot for defensive linemen in recent years. Three of the last five players taken 15th overall have been defensive linemen: DE Jerome McDougle (Philadelphia) in 2003, DT Albert Haynesworth (Tennessee) in 2002 and DT Anthony McFarland (Tampa Bay) in 1999. When the Bucs took McFarland in '99, he was the first defensive lineman off the board that year. In stark contrast, Haynesworth was the sixth defensive lineman drafted in the first 15 picks in 2002, and McDougle was the seventh defensive lineman drafted in 2003. * Defensive line has also been the most common target for the Bucs in the first round over their first 28 drafts. The Bucs have taken seven defensive linemen in the first round over the years; the next most common position is, fitting, offensive line, which has accounted for five Tampa Bay first-round selections. The Bucs have never taken a tight end, safety, punter or kicker in the first round. * Some analysts believe up to six players from the University of Miami (FL) may go in the first round of the draft this year. If one of those players becomes a Buccaneer, it would be nothing new for Tampa Bay management. Miami has produced the most Buccaneer draft picks overall, with 11, just edging Alabama and its 10. Florida, Florida State, Tennessee and USC have all produced eight Buc draft picks. Some of the smaller or more obscure schools to contribute players to Tampa Bay draft classes include Azusa Pacific, Colgate, Drake, Kearney State, Lenoir Rhyne, Minot State and the Citadel.