BEST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: DE Lee Roy Selmon was the first draft pick in team history, No. 1 overall in 1976 by an expansion franchise that within four seasons went from losing its first 26 games to within one victory of a Super Bowl appearance. Selmon was one of the NFL’s most dominant pass rushers and the first Tampa Bay player elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A case also could be made for fellow Hall of Famers Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, picked in 1995. They formed the foundation for a defense that keyed the club’s only Super Bowl championship run. However, it’s difficult to top what Selmon accomplished during a period when the Bucs were historically bad.
BEST SECOND-ROUND DRAFT PICK: LB Lavonte David was the 58th overall selection in 2012 and has started every game he’s played over the past eight seasons. An All-Pro in 2013, David is a tackling machine, one of the most underrated linebackers in the league, mostly because the Bucs have yet to make the playoffs during his career.
BEST LATE-ROUND DRAFT PICK: Undersized DT Dave Logan (1979) was a 12th-rounder who started 103 of 110 games he appeared in over eight seasons in Tampa Bay.
WORST FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK: RB Bo Jackson, No. 1 overall in 1986. Make no mistake, Jackson was the right choice after a Heisman Trophy-winning college career. But the Bucs grossly underestimated Jackson determination to not play for them after a visit to team facilities not approved by the NCAA cost him his final season of baseball eligibility at Auburn. Jackson felt then-Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse intentionally deceived him about the visit being approved to force him to commit to playing football rather than baseball. He warned Tampa Bay he would not sign, but the Bucs drafted him anyway. Jackson didn’t budge, playing baseball with the Kansas City Royals. The Bucs made matters worse for themselves, refusing to trade the running back’s NFL rights. So Jackson re-entered the draft the following year, the Raiders selected him in the seventh round, 183rd overall. After working out an agreement to play football and baseball, he made his NFL debut later that year. The Bucs, meanwhile, were left with nothing to show.
WORST SECOND-ROUND DRAFT PICK: There have been plenty, including DE Booker Reese in 1982, LBs Jackie Walker and Kevin Murphy in 1986, wide receiver Dexter Jackson (not to be confused with Super Bowl MVP safety Dexter Jackson) in 2008, and Da’Quan Bowers in 2011. More recently, the Bucs traded up from the third round to the second to take kicker Roberto Aguayo in 2016. Aguayo struggled as a rookie and was released before his second season.
BEST DRAFT TRADE: Leave it to the Bucs to swing a deal that’s arguably their best, as well as a candidate for one of the worst. The team sent a pair of first-round picks (2002, 2003), and two No. 2s (2002, 2004) and cash to the Raiders for the right to negotiate a contract with coach Jon Gruden. He inherited a team built by Tony Dungy and won the Super Bowl in his first year with the Bucs. The trade also was costly. By giving up four high draft picks that potentially could extend the most successful stretch in club history, the Bucs became the first team to win the Super Bowl and miss the playoffs the next two seasons. They don’t have a postseason victory since winning their only NFL title in February 2003.
WORST DRAFT TRADE: Tampa Bay’s decades-long search for a franchise quarterback ended with last month’s signing of Tom Brady. One of the blunders along the way was a 1990 trade that brought Chris Chandler from the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick turned out to be No. 2 overall in 1992. Chandler started six games over portions of two seasons with the Bucs, going 0-6 while throwing for five touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
DID YOU KNOW THEY ONCE DRAFTED?: QB Vinny Testaverde No. 1 overall in 1987. Testaverde lasted into his 40s in the NFL, but with other teams. He was taken four years after chasing what the Bucs hoped would be a franchise quarterback, sending a future first-round pick to Cincinnati for Jack Thompson. Tampa Bay subsequently went 2-13, and the draft pick – which the Bengals later traded to New England, – wound up being the first overall in 1984. Thompson started 16 games over two seasons, winning three.
LAST YEAR’S PICKS: (Round, Name, Position, School): 1, Devin White, LB, LSU; 2, Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB, Central Michigan; 3, Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn; 3, Mike Edwards, S, Kentucky; 4, Anthony Nelson, DE, Iowa; 5, Matt Gay, K, Utah; 6, Scotty Miller, WR, Bowling Green; 7, Terry Beckner, DT, Missouri.
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