Buccaneers.com's Scott Smith takes a look at the best player in Buccaneers history to wear uniform numbers 61-70.
We've reached the Land of (Mostly) Offensive Lineman. Specifically what we see, as we stand on one peak, is a steep slope into a valley that then then rises just as steeply to a second peak on the far end.
If that mental image isn't doing it for you, allow us to be a bit more clear: Picking the top Tampa Bay Buccaneers in every jersey from 61 to 70 primarily means going through a history of offensive lineman, and the selections at either end of the range are much easier than the ones in the middle. Most Buccaneer fans probably would picture the same players at 61 and 62, while 63 is the single easiest selection on the whole 1-100 list (explanation on why can be found below). Similarly the last 15 years have produced the clear winners at both 69 and 70.
65? 67? Not so much. 68? Oh boy.
You get the point. If we continue down this path it's just going to be more complaining, so let's get right to it. Some of these choices from 1-99 are inevitably going to be tougher than others, either due to too many good candidates or too few solid choices, so we're also noting the "level of difficulty" of each choice.
61: C Tony Mayberry
The first two players in this range were long-time teammates and fellow starters on the line in the 1990s, but this one is a little easier to pick. Mayberry went to three Pro Bowls (in his last three seasons) and those were the first three all-star appearances by an offensive lineman in franchise history. No other Bucs' linemen has been to more than two Pro Bowls, and in fact only two offensive players at any position (Mike Alstott and Jimmie Giles) have been more than Mayberry. Drafted in the fourth round in 1990, Mayberry waited one year behind long-time starter Randy Grimes and then started all 144 games over the next nine seasons. He was gone before the Bucs went to the Super Bowl but he did have a hand in turning the franchise around in the mid-90s. Mayberry ranks 14th on the team's all-time AV list; the only offensive lineman higher is Paul Gruber. There also isn't much competition at the 61 spot. Greg Roberts was a valuable starting guard for the first Bucs playoff team but he only played four seasons and made 42 starts. Otherwise, there isn't a single starter on the list.
Level of Difficulty: 1.
Even if we acknowledge Roberts, this one was an absolute no-brainer.
62: G Ian Beckles
The Buccaneers drafted Mayberry with the 108th overall pick and then took Beckles six spots later. That worked out well. Beckles actually got into the starting lineup as a rookie, unlike Mayberry, and was essentially the starting right guard for the duration of his seven years with the team. Also unlike Mayberry, Beckles has some pretty strong competition at his number, including Sean Farrell, Jeff Christy and, more recently, Evan Smith. Farrell was a first-round pick who also spent most of his Buc career starting at right guard and acquitting himself nicely, but he made 38 fewer starts than Beckles. Christy was the starting center for the 2002 Super Bowl team, and he made a Pro Bowl with the Bucs in 2000, but that stretch was his entire tenure in Tampa. If one uses AV, Beckles is the easy choice, ranking 50th with 37 AV, well ahead of both Farrell (72nd, 28) and Christy (85th, 24).
Level of Difficulty: 7.
This one isn't exactly a hand-wringer like 83 is going to be, but if we had to say with certainty who the best lineman was among Beckles, Farrell and Christy, it would be tough. Beckles comes out on top in part due to tenure.
Buccaneers.com's Scott Smith takes a look at the best player in Buccaneers history to wear uniform numbers 51-60.
63: DE Lee Roy Selmon
We do not have to publish a single statistic about Selmon here, even if he is the team's all-time leader with 78.5 sacks. We don't have to write about how he is possibly the most beloved Buc of all time, a community leader who was always a joy to be around. We don't have to remind you that, for a long time, he was the only Buccaneer in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You don't have to be reminded that at halftime of a game in 1977, Chicago Bears tackle Ted Albrecht said the following: "Coach, there are four things in this world I do not want to do under any circumstance. Number one, I don't want to milk a cobra. Number two, I don't want to be buried at sea. Number three, I don't want to be hit in the head with a hockey puck. And number four, I don't want to play the second half against Lee Roy Selmon." You see, none of this is necessary because Selmon is the only Buccaneer ever to wear the 63 jersey.
Level of Difficulty: 1.
As in, none. Selmon was the first pick in the 1976 college draft, which was the Bucs' inaugural season, he wore the 63 jersey for nine years, and then no one has worn it since. It was officially retired in 1986 but Buccaneers equipment managers already knew better than to give it to someone else.
64: G Randall McDaniel
Okay, now we start that gentle slope into the valley. McDaniel is a Pro Football Hall of Famer like the man before him on this list and was one of the best guards in NFL history. However, that was already evident when he joined the Buccaneers in 2000 after 12 dominant seasons with the Vikings. McDaniel was probably not that same dominant player in his two Buc seasons but he did start all 32 games at left guard and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2000. McDaniel inherited his 64 jersey from Jorge Diaz, a former undrafted free agent who had worn it the previous four seasons. Diaz, who started 45 games in that span, including all 16 in the 1997 playoff season, actually finished with one more AV than McDaniel (19 to 18). Interestingly, Kevin Pamphile, who was the Bucs' number 64 from 2014-17, also compiled 18 AV. We're breaking the tie in McDaniel's' favor based on the Pro Bowl appearance and the fact that he's instantly recognizable in that number.
Level of Difficulty: 8.
This seems a little unfair to Diaz, but neither candidate absolutely blows us away.
65: T Jeremy Trueblood
The Buccaneers took Trueblood with their next pick after grabbing future Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph in the first round in 2006. That's similar to the consecutive picks of Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet in 2015, and it worked out pretty much the same way, with both players becoming long-term stalwarts on the line. Trueblood didn't hit the Pro Bowl highs that Joseph did but he did start 84 games and was in the lineup less than a month into his rookie season. He was the starting right tackle the last time the Buccaneers made the playoffs, and he essentially bridged the time between Kenyatta Walker and Demar Dotson at that position. The competition here, again, is not strong. Defensive end Dave Stalls wore it for four seasons in the early '80s but his AV total is less than half that of Trueblood, who actually ranks 54th in that category in team history, just ahead of Scot Brantley and Vincent Jackson.
Level of Difficulty: 4.
Trueblood may not be remembered as a star but he was a long-term starter and he doesn't have an obvious top competitor here. Perhaps that will eventually be Alex Cappa.
66: C Ryan Jensen
Do I actually have to choose? Jensen has two good seasons in as the Bucs' starting center, but it seems awfully quick to coronate him as the best number 66 in team history. George Yarno might have an argument but he bounced between three jersey numbers as a Buccaneer. Otherwise, here are all the players who wore it for more than one season: DE Booker Reese, G Bruce Reimers, LS Ryan Benjamin, G Patrick Omameh and T Leonard Wester. Reese is one of the most famous draft busts in team history and Reimers was an unimpressive free agent addition in the early 1990s. Benjamin was the snapper for the Super Bowl team but only held the job for two years. Neither Omameh nor Wester had two seasons that are better than what Jensen has already done as a Buccaneer.
Level of Difficulty: 6.
There's clearly nobody we'd put ahead of Jensen, but it just feels strange putting him at the top this quickly.
67: T Kenyatta Walker
Before you yell at us, please read the entire list of everyone besides Walker who has worn the 67 jersey for the Buccaneers: G Tom Alward, G Brett Moritz, DE Robert Cobb, DT Karl Morgan, DE Roy Harris (a replacement player), G Mike Sullivan, G Stephen Ingram, DE George Johnson, DT John Hughes, OL Mike Liedtke. Those 10 players combined for 20 career starts as Buccaneers; Walker had 73. The Buccaneers' first-round pick in 2001 is a bit maligned because he did not develop into the long-term starter at left tackle the Buccaneers were hoping for after the Paul Gruber era ended. He was by no means a star. But he's the only long-term starter ever to wear the 67 jersey, as he handled right tackle from 2002-05 before being replaced by Trueblood. And Walker was also a starter on an offensive line that had a brilliant postseason in the 2002 run to the Super Bowl, as that group allowed just one sack in three games.
Level of Difficulty: 5.
This is mostly to reflect that Walker was considered a less-than-perfect return on a first-round pick, but there really isn't anyone else who can make a claim.
68: OL/K George Yarno
This number is crying out for a hero, and there is nobody on the current roster wearing it. Yarno wore three different numbers as a Buccaneer but his first five were in 68. During that time, he was a versatile offensive lineman who started 29 games. He got 41 more starts during his Tampa tenure in other jersey numbers, but by the rules of our game those don't count. We got a little cheeky with his position designation above because Yarno also successfully tried an extra point in a 1983 game when the Bucs' kicker was hurt. That should count for something. Guard Rick Mallory and center Joe Hawley are the only possible competitors and Yarno has the most AV by far (though not all of it as number 68).
Level of Difficulty: 7.
This would have been quite easy if Yarno had worn the same jersey his whole Buccaneers career. As it is, it's a tough choice between underwhelming options.
69: T Demar Dotson
The number 69 jersey had very little history beyond linemen Darrell Austin and John Bruhin for almost two decades but it has actually been well-represented almost every year since 1994. Pete Pierson took it on after being drafted in 1994 and held onto it through 2002 but he was only a starter in one season, taking over for Paul Gruber in 2000. Pierson did start in the 1999 postseason after Gruber suffered a career-ending broken leg in the regular-season finale. After that, Anthony Davis took it on from 2003-08 and started all 32 games in 2005 and 2006. But then along came Dotson in 2009, and he blew up the curve. Essentially the team's starting right tackle when he was healthy for most of the last decade, Dotson played in 130 games with 106 starts and ended up 16th on the team's all-time AV chart.
Level of Difficulty: 2.
Pierson and Davis are worth mentioning here but Dotson is the easy choice.
70: T Donald Penn
Unlike Dotson, with whom he shared the starting lineup for four years, Penn has plenty of competition at his jersey number of choice. That includes Harry Swayne, Jason Odom and Logan Mankins. Swayne was drafted as a defensive end before switching to offensive tackle, and he would later start 110 games for three other teams, most of them in San Diego. But he only logged three starts as a Buc. Odom went from fourth-round pick in 1996 to a strong starting right tackle but a back injury ended his career after 46 games and 41 starts. Mankins is likely to end up in the Hall of Fame and he capped his career with two seasons in Tampa, including one Pro Bowl year, after being traded to the Bucs from New England. But none of these three really come close to Penn, who is 21st in team history in AV and who made 108 starts at left tackle. Penn is the only offensive tackle in team history to make a Pro Bowl.
Level of Difficulty: 3.
Mankins had a better overall career but Penn did much more as a Buccaneer.