No team has a spotless draft history. Sometimes it feels like the tape lied, skills from college not translating to the next level. Other times mistakes are purely on the shoulders of the front office, reaching for a player or not doing their due diligence to ensure they make the right investment. For a team that has enjoyed as many top ten selections in the draft as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it isn’t hard to find past mistakes. As they enter the 2014 draft with yet another top ten pick, Tampa Bay needs to look at the misfires from their past and in order to not make another in the present.
10. Dexter Jackson, WR, 58th overall, 2008
There are plenty of instances where a second round pick doesn’t pan out, so to call Jackson a bust seems a bit unfair given where he was selected. But a second round pick is still plenty valuable, and you often expect that guy to at least be on the roster for a few seasons, if for no other reason than to see if he can grow into a better player. Jackson never caught a pass with the Buccaneers and was cut following his rookie season. While he has shown up on a practice squad or two, he is without a single reception in an NFL game.
9. Cadillac Williams, RB, 5th overall, 2005
Bucs fans will surely remember how ecstatic they were with the Williams selection following his rookie season. Who wouldn’t be? He set the record for most rushing yards over a player’s first three games at 434 and finished the season with almost 1200 rushing yards. However, injury after injury seemed to plague him, and he never reached 1000 yards again. Tampa Bay fans may recall many people thought they’d take Aaron Rodgers with the fifth pick, and their decision to take Williams is a big contributing factor in why Rodgers wears a Packers uniform today.
8. Gaines Adams, DE, 4th overall, 2007
Adams is the first of many defensive ends on this list. Entering the draft he had been touted as a big-time pass rusher, having averaged better than a sack a game in his senior year. But his production fell off in his two full seasons as a starter, only getting a combined 12.5 sacks in 32 games. He was eventually traded to the Bears in the middle of the 2009 season for a second round pick. He could have potentially grown to a good consistent starter, underwhelming for where he was drafted, but still holding an important role. Sadly, he passed away in 2010 after a cardiac arrest from a previously undetected heart condition.
7. Regan Upshaw, DE, 12th overall, 1996
Upshaw was another example of Tampa Bay getting too hungry in the draft for a pass rusher. While you have to win at the line of scrimmage to be successful, drafting purely on position need can be dangerous. Upshaw was chosen before Eddie George, Marvin Harrison, and Ray Lewis. His 18.5 sacks across four seasons with Tampa Bay made him expendable, going on to play for four more teams through 2004.
6. Eric Curry, DE, 6th overall, 1993
After getting five sacks in his rookie year, some may have thought Curry was just taking time to adjust to the NFL, arguing that he was going to grow into a consistent threat to quarterbacks across the league. Those five sacks would be the most he would ever have in a season. His counterpart from Alabama, John Copeland, wouldn’t fare much better with the Bengals who picked him one selection earlier. In his eight seasons with Cincinnati, he only had 24 sacks.
5. Keith McCants, LB, 4th overall, 1990
Unfortunately, McCants’ legacy as an NFL player is tarnished in a few different ways. When you look at him purely as a player, his 12 sacks in 42 games in Tampa Bay is disappointing. If you look at his career in contrast with Junior Seau, who was picked right after McCants, he’s a huge bust. Two months ago being arrested for the 12th time on drug charges makes McCants story simply tragic. In ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Broke,” he talked about the pressure and all that money at such a young age leading to his addiction issues.
4. Kenyatta Walker, OT, 14th overall, 2001
Some players enter the draft with so much praise thrust upon them, it nearly seems impossible for anyone to meet such lofty expectations. Walker was expected to be the leader of an offensive line for at least a decade at perhaps the most high-profile position on the line, the left tackle. Instead, he was considered the weak link in his tenure, eventually moving to right tackle. It doesn’t help that the Buccaneers traded a second round pick to go get him, giving this bad selection twice the damage of a normal missed pick.
3. Booker Reese, DE, 32nd overall, 1982
Reese finds himself on this list mainly for the way in which he was drafted by the Bucs. As the legend goes, personnel director Ken Harock wanted his representatives at the 1982 draft to write down two names: Sean Farrell and Booker Reese. This being long before smart phones and wifi, through some bad telephone connections, only Farrell’s name was written down, and he was accidentally selected 17th overall. In a wild knee-jerk reaction, because the Bucs wanted Reese so bad, they traded their first round pick in the following year’s draft to get him at the beginning of the second round. Reese never found his way into a starting role, eventually dropping to third string and being traded away all together.
2. Bo Jackson, RB, 1st overall, 1986
Before Bo Knows captured the attention of the nation and 90s children everywhere, Bo Jackson knew he did not want to be drafted by the Bucs. He flat out told them he’d go play baseball instead if Tampa Bay selected him. There was plenty of precedent for a threat like this, John Elway did the same thing to the Baltimore Colts with his potential of becoming a Yankee just a few years prior. The Bucs didn’t listen, selecting him first overall anyway. Of course Jackson would later enter the league as a Raider, but he went on to make good on his claim, never playing a snap in that creamsicle orange jersey.
1. Vinny Testaverde, QB, 1st overall, 1987
Vinny Testaverde finds himself at the top of this list for two reasons. One, his selection shoved Steve Young out the door in Tampa Bay. Young, of course, would later go on to win a Super Bowl with the 49ers, but in 1987, the Buccaneers were content to call him a bust. Just one year after the Bo Jackson debacle, Tampa Bay made Testaverde the $8 million dollar man. Secondly, Testaverde himself would actually go on to be a serviceable starter in the NFL. He played till 2007, where he still started six games for the Panthers. But, like Young’s legacy being greater outside of Tampa Bay, neither of his two Pro Bowl selections happened with the Bucs. In six seasons, he threw 112 interceptions and had a 24-48 record. Could the Buccaneers be doing this again, this time in the form of Mike Glennon? Glennon actually has decent numbers, could he go on to better things like Young and Testaverde if he finds himself on another team’s roster? Only time will tell, but given the Buccaneers history, it might not be wise to cast him off too soon.