Does Mike Alstott take the honors for picks 31-40? He has heavy competition
If you've been keeping up with the draft coverage on NFL.com leading up to this weekend's big bang – and you should; there's an awful lot there – you have probably run across a piece called the "The all-timers: NFL.com's ultimate draft."
The premise is simple: Rather than a mock-draft prediction of the 32 picks to be made in the 2009 first round, this is a pick-by-pick analysis of the best selections ever made from one to 32. The end result is an "ultimate" first round, beginning with John Elway, who went first overall in 1983 and ending in Drew Brees, who was the 32nd pick in 2001.
If you haven't seen it and you're wondering the obvious, no, there were no Tampa Bay Buccaneers among the 32 selections, though you could definitely make an argument for Derrick Brooks over Darrell Green at pick number 28. Lee Roy Selmon was in the running at pick number one, which obviously created a crowded field, and Warren Sapp (12), Warrick Dunn (12) and Doug Williams (17) all were under consideration at their spots.
The NFL.com ultimate draft got us thinking at Buccaneers.com about a similar exercise focusing solely on Tampa Bay's own selection history. Nobody would beat out Selmon or Brooks in that draft.
The idea had an obvious flaw, however. Even if you start with Selmon at number one, who is the best number-two pick in Buccaneer history. Answer: There's never been one. In fact, Tampa Bay has never selected at about half of the top 32 spots, and at many other positions there would be no competition for the lone player picked there. Technically, Rod Jones is the best player Tampa Bay has ever picked at number 25 overall, but that's hardly worth celebrating.
So the next idea was to pick the best round-by-round draft one could put together from among the Bucs' 33 drafts. How about a class of Selmon, Mike Alstott, Ronde Barber, Tony Mayberry, Jermaine Phillips, Chidi Ahanotu and Jim Pyne? The problem with that concept was the opposite: It was too restrictive. How do you determine the best pick ever from among such first-rounders as Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks? Is Barber the best Buc third-rounder ever? Perhaps, but what about John Lynch?
Still, we liked the idea too much to go down after two strikes. So here's our third swing at it; we hope you enjoy it.
The Ultimate Buccaneer Draft, 10 Picks at a Time
What if we broke the draft up into groups of 10? In other words, let's determine the best Buccaneer draft pick ever from among overall picks 1 to 10. Then the best from 11-20, 21-30, and so on. After all, draft analysts commonly refer to premier players as "Top-10" talent, and there's no denying that the type of prospect usually available at number 10 is different than the one available at number 30.
As it turned out, that worked just fine when applied to Buccaneer history. We can now give Selmon, Sapp and Brooks their due, and highlight some of the other great value picks in team history. Scot Brantley at 76; Tony Mayberry at 108; Steve Wilson at 154…are they the best of their respective 10-spots? We'll see.
We still ran into one or two difficult situations as you'll see. Most notably, Mike Alstott, James Wilder and Barrett Ruud were all picked in too similar of a spot; and there isn't much we can say about the 91-100 slot. Without further ado, the Ultimate Buccaneer Draft, 10 Picks at a Time:
(One note: With only a few exceptions players drafted in the last couple years were not heavily considered. It's not fair to those players to determine the success of their selections just yet.)