On Wednesday, my dose of Daily Bucs Trivia centered around the team's draft history, specifically asking which of its 44 previous draft classes produced the most games played for the team. The 1997 class, led by Ronde Barber, was the answer, but the 1987 class that included Vinny Testaverde, Ricky Reynolds, Winston Moss, Mark Carrier and Ron Hall wasn't far behind. If you want more details about the classes at the top and bottom of that list, click here.
Now, there are plenty of different ways to measure how productive or impactful a certain draft class was. The 1995 class, for instance, wasn't in the top five for overall games produced for the team but did have two future Hall-of-Famers at the top. That was a better overall draft weekend for the franchise than was the one in 1987.
Still, you can't produce anything for the team if you're not on the field. At the very least, a large number of games played and/or games started indicates a class that shaped the team's future for a while. After writing the aforementioned trivia question about year-by-year Buccaneer draft efforts it occurred to me to look at it again from round to round.
As any NFL general manager will tell you, there are hits and misses every year in every round of the draft, including the first. Still, you would expect a higher rate of hits in earlier rounds. Right?
Through 44 drafts, the Buccaneers have made 40 first-round selections, 51 second-round picks, 45 third-round picks, and so on. As a group, did those first-rounders provide the team with more games played and starts than the second-round group, and did both of those produce more than the third round? Yes, but the difference might not be as stark as you would think, particularly in terms of games played.
Those 40 first-rounders have so far produced 2,897 games played and 2,546 starts for the Buccaneers, ranging from Derrick Brooks' 224 and 221 to the pair of unfortunate zeroes for Bo Jackson. Three of those players (Vita Vea, O.J. Howard and Mike Evans) are still on the team and will almost surely add to those totals in years to come. Paul Gruber, Warren Sapp, Gerald McCoy, Lee Roy Selmon and Davin Joseph all played in at least 100 Bucs games.
The Buccaneers have a new look in 2020 - take a look at pictures of their new uniforms!
The second-round crew has the benefit of 11 more draft picks, but many draft analysts believe that quantity of picks is more important overall than placement, anyway. So the ability to get more players in the second round – often through first-round trades like the one Jason Licht parlayed into two extra second-rounders in 2018 – is a feature, not a bug. As such, we end up with 2,877 games played and 1,996 starts. The games played totals between the first and second round are almost identical, though the first round produced significantly more starts (and, presumably, starters). Mike Alstott is currently at the top of that class with both 158 games played and 137 starts, but David, with 121 of each, may eventually catch him. Other second-rounders with double-digit games played include Brian Kelly, Randy Grimes, James Wilder, Ricky Reynolds and Jeremy Trueblood.
We see the same pattern as we move on to the third, where 42 players have combined to produce 2,454 games played and 1,504 starts. Three of the team's historical third-rounders never played a game for the team. Ronde Barber is the patron saint of third-rounders, with team records in games (241) and starts (232), but he gets a big assist from John Lynch (164 and 132). John Cannon and Scot Brantley also went from third-round status to 100 or more games played.
The decline you expect continues from there, round by round. Forty-seven fourth-round picks have produced 37 players who got into at least one Buc game, producing a total of 1,695 games played and 1,043 starts. Tony Mayberry, Will Gholston and Ron Hall all got over 100 games played (and counting, in Gholston's case). The starts fall off more quickly in the fifth round, where 31 of 41 draft picks played for the team, producing 1,161 games and 554 starts. Give Steve Wilson and Ian Beckles most of the credit.
The sixth round comes close to matching the fifth with 1,078 games but logs only 329 starts, with 31 of 44 picks making it into a game. Chidi Ahanotu, Adam Heyward, Keith Tandy and Chris Washington are highlights. Round seven has 56 picks, 28 players who got into a game, 581 games played and 176 starts. Dekoda Watson had the most games; Jim Pyne had the most starts.
The draft was 12 rounds long in the Bucs' first 17 years involved, then shortened to eight rounds in 1993 before it took its current seven-round shape in 1994. (It was actually 17 rounds in 1976 but no players picked after Round 12 made it.) Here are the numbers from Rounds 8-12:
• Round 8: 17 picks, 6 who played, 228 games, 142 starts, led by Gene Sanders and Marty Carter
• Round 9: 18 picks, 6 who played, 329 games, 165 starts, led by Gerald Carter and Reuben Davis
• Round 10: 17 picks, 5 who played, 180 games, 34 starts, led by Donald Igwebuike and Andy Hawkins
• Round 11: 17 picks, 6 who played, 160 games, 7 starts, led by Mark Witte and Frank Pillow
• Round 12: 19 picks, 6 who played, 261 games, 106 starts, led by David Logan (110 and 103)
If there's any takeaway from this, I suppose it is that we should all be just as excited about the Bucs' second and third-round picks next Friday as we are in the first round on Thursday night. Or maybe that, as is becoming increasingly obvious, the NFL Draft is an inexact science.
Now on to your questions.
A reminder that you can send questions to me anytime you want on Twitter (@ScottSBucs) and they're easier to find if you include the hashtag #SSMailbagBucs. We are also now soliciting questions each week on our Instagram page; look for that story on Wednesdays. As always, if you want to get a longer question into the mailbag and would prefer to email your question, you can do so to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi Scott from everyone at the Bucs UK! We hope you're all keeping safe; we're loving the home-based coverage.
I loved the new uniform unveiling. The alternate third jersey (the Pewter one) seems to have caught the imagination of many fans that craved a more distinctive look. It's really striking and unique. My question(s): Can the Bucs wear it for a game? Is it like the color rush jerseys that we are guaranteed to see, or more like a throwback which we might or might not see in action?
London, UK (via email to email@example.com)
Oh yeah, the Bucs are going to wear that uniform in games, and I can't wait. For obvious reasons, I already had a soft spot for the Super Bowl-era uniform style, so I too was pleased with the latest change. That said, my favorite part about the new uniforms is the all-pewter alternative set. I think you already chose the perfect adjective for them: "striking." I really like the way the pewter is very simply accented by just red and white.
Anyway, these are very much like the color rush jerseys, even if the NFL doesn't use that specific terminology anymore. That's what the fans know them as and that's how these pewter jerseys were referred to in the team's press release for the unveiling. You could also call them alternate uniforms. I wouldn't compare them to throwbacks; if anything, this is a look forward, not back.
In any case, teams are allowed to wear alternate uniforms up to three times during the regular season. They can also wear them in the preseason, though I'm not sure that's going to happen. They cannot be worn during the postseason. For 2020, at least, this will be the team's only alternate set of uniforms, as the current rule regarding the use of just one helmet per player during a season prohibits the Bucs from the orange-and-white "creamsicle" throwbacks they busted out once a year from 2009-11. However, the team hopes to get back to that tradition and is one of several teams that is pushing the NFL to change that rule for that very reason.
View the evolution of the Buccaneers' uniforms over time.
I don't know if this is mail bag material, but perhaps you could kindly clarify if you have a moment-- if you feel like digging into this.
I love the new uniforms and am so glad they went back to the Super Bowl era ones. I was hoping that they would slightly reduce the logo size on the helmet. I believe you stated in your article that they shortened the side length of the flag. In one photo on the site the flag size itself appears reduced (photos attached). If you look at the other photo the logo appears larger and much closer to the front of the helmet. Also, in the helmet only photo you can see the side of the flag with the sword curving more, especially near the top. This isn't the case in the other photo as it looks more vertical from sword tip to top of the flag. I'm wondering if are they using different variations to fit a particular helmet? Is the helmet only photo accurate?
This is what one does with a lot of time to kill.
Dan (via email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is a great question and I'm happy to clarify.
Dan attached two photos from our uniform galleries to his email, one a closeup of Devin White in half-profile wearing the helmet and the other just a shot of the helmet on turf. The logo on White's helmet is definitely bigger than the one on the second shot.
Here's what you need to know about those two pictures: They were taken in separate photo shoots. Almost all of the pictures in those various galleries were all taken during a day when the Bucs got White, Lavonte David and Chris Godwin together to model the uniforms, which they clearly enjoyed doing. That helmet shot, though, was taken separately and at a later date.
During the photo shoot with the players, the team did not yet have on hand a helmet with the logo at the size they were planning to use with the new uniforms. Once that arrived, a new picture was taken of the helmet to give fans an idea of what they will look like. As for the curve of the flag and the sword being different, I'm not sure I'm seeing the same thing you are. I'm guessing that's just a function of the angle the two pictures are taken at.
The point of reducing the flag logo with the new uniforms was the eliminate the issue of the chin strap and buckle obscuring part of it when it was buckled up. Now the flag clears the buckle and isn't obscured at all. The placement is not a function of different types of helmets that players wear; it will be in the same spot and be the same size and all helmet varieties.
Here's a Q&A we just posted on Wednesday with more on the helmet and other elements of the uniform, colors and logos.
Do you think we will trade up in the draft?
- @izayah_cruz33, via Instagram
Well, the betting man would say no, for a couple reasons. One, it's not as simple as wanting to trade up; you have to find a team that's willing to move down. If you're guessing, like most analysts, that the Buccaneers are interested in getting one of the top four offensive tackles available, you have to find a team ahead of Tampa Bay that not only is willing to listen to a trade offer but also doesn't want one of those tackles itself. Among the teams ahead of the Buccaneers who I think could be interested in one of those players are the Giants (4th), Chargers (6th), Cardinals (8th), Jaguars (9th), Browns (10th) and Jets (11th).
Last week, General Manager Jason Licht said he would head into the draft with a plan in place for every possible trade-up landing spot, from the first-overall pick to the 13th. That doesn't mean he's going to pull the trigger.
"It takes two teams to get together and have a marriage to do the deal," said Licht. "It's not as simple as just saying, 'Okay, we want to move up to the eighth pick.' I guess it is if you're going to give up a bounty of picks, but you just want to make sure you're not stressing your team and harming your team for the future by giving away too much. We put together every move up to every pick all the way up to one, with what we'd be willing to do. It doesn't necessarily mean we're going to do it."
I've studied this in several stories recently, but for the Bucs to trade up to somewhere like the seventh or eighth pick (assuming a willing partner), it's almost certainly going to cost them their second-rounder, which is 45th overall. That means you'd be giving up a shot at, say, a running back or a dynamic wide receiver. You might be able to trade up to 10th or 11th with "only" giving away the team's third-round pick (76th overall), but even that is a little hard to swallow.
Two, trading up in the first round has not been Licht's modus operandi to this point. He's made a couple of moves down in the opening round that have worked out nicely, but he has yet to go up from the team's original starting point in six previous drafts. Licht has made some aggressive moves up in the middle rounds to make sure he didn't miss out on a coveted player, like Ali Marpet, but those deals don't cost nearly as much draft capital.
Three, I'm not completing buying this 'Bucs are in win-now mode' argument as a justification for a trade up. There's some merit to the thought that the roster doesn't have a lot of big holes right now, and therefore it makes sense to aim extra draft assets at what appears to be the biggest need. However, couldn't I also use the 'win-now' idea to argue that the Bucs would be more likely to keep their second-round pick as that can probably bring another player who can contribute immediately?
So if I'm that betting man, if I have to give you a yes or no answer here, I'll go with the odds and say no. All of that said, the trade-up idea is becoming more and more plausible in my head as we get closer to the real thing. Version 6.0 of our Buccaneers.com mock draft also dropped today and – SPOILER ALERT! – I predicted a trade up from 14th to 10th for Tampa Bay. Two of those four tackles were off the board in the first nine picks and I didn't think the other two were going to make it. Obviously, this assumes that Cleveland is willing to trade back, and like I said they might prefer to stay put for the exact same thing. In that scenario, I found on the draft value chart that the Bucs' third-round pick was almost the exact right compensation for that move but I still felt like the Browns would want more and also tossed in a 2021 third-round pick.
That was easy for me to do. I had control of both teams. The Bucs might be sitting in that exact same position an hour or so into the draft on Thursday night and find no willing trade partners.
One more point: All of this is based on the assumption – albeit one that nearly every analyst agrees upon – that the Buccaneers are targeting an offensive tackle. Only Licht and a few others know if that's true at the moment. If the Bucs in fact have their eye on a player or a couple players at different positions, then I don't think there's much chance at all they will trade up. Sitting at number 14 there's a very good chance the Buccaneers could get either the first or second-best prospect at such positions as wide receiver, defensive tackle, edge rusher or running back. There would be no real need to give away extra draft capital in that situation. In fact, in that sort of scenario, or if the Buccaneers are just as happy with one of the other offensive tackles besides the four usually considered the top of the market (Mekhi Becton, Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills and Tristan Wirfs), they could easily make a trade down instead.
View pictures of the Buccaneers' new white uniforms.
In this draft, will the Bucs focus more on offense or defense?
Well, if Carmen Vitali and I were anywhere near the mark in our full-draft Bucs projection from last week, the answer is definitely offense, at least on the first two days. ESPN's Mel Kiper seems to agree.
Look, mock drafts are mostly about figuring out a team's perceived needs and then connecting dots with a ranked list of players at each position. What we can't know for sure is if the team's actual decision-makers completely agree with that "needs" assessment, or if the player we're projecting to be drafted will still be on the board at the right time. So take our predictions, and Kiper's, with a grain of salt.
Still, it's hard to look at the Buccaneers' depth chart and the strengths of this year's draft class and not think this is an opportunity for the team to make a good offense even better around Tom Brady. We also have some offseason comments by Licht and Head Coach Bruce Arians leading us to believe that they would like to add a pass-catching running back in some way, perhaps through the draft, and possibly bring in more options at receiver behind the wonderful starting duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. We also look at a very young defense that seemed to really find its way in the second half of last season and is mostly intact after the re-signing of Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh and the franchise-tagging of Shaq Barrett. The front seven might need a bit more for the edge-rush rotation and the safety position is a little unsettled, but there are in-house candidates for both issues.
The Bucs' first five picks in last year's draft were all defensive players and the whole exercise only produced one new player for the offense, sixth-round wide receiver Scotty Miller. The 2018 draft featured defensive players with three of the first four picks. Most of those players are now key parts of this young defense. After those two drafts, it seems likely to me that the Buccaneers will use this one to primarily address the other side of the ball.