Bucs haven’t done well late in the first (except Brooks)

by Gary Shelton on April 25, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Take a dartboard.

Make it rotate endlessly like a wheel.

Now drive it by the back of a pickup truck driving down a cobblestone road in the dark. And you're blindfolded and spun around six times.

Now try to hit the bull's-eye.

Pretty much, this is the task of the Tampa Bay Bucs' front office as the NFL draft starts Thursday night. They are deep-sea fishing in the bottom end of the pool. They still need a major player, but they're in a minor part of the draft.They're in the part of the first round where it feels like the second round.

Roll back through the names that have come late in the first round. Ray Snell. Josh Freeman. Aqib Talib. Adrian Clayborn.

In other words, the odds of catching a falling star are slim.

Frankly, this has never been a big problem for the Bucs. Throughout its 41-draft history, the Bucs have earned a top 10 pick a staggering 27 times. (Sometimes, they've traded it away; once, they didn't sign their overall No. 1 pick. It's one of the saddest songs on the NFL soundtrack.)

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And despite all of those high-ranking No. 1 picks, the team has still come up with Eric Curry and Charlies McCrae and Keith McCants and Trent Dilfer and Gaines Adams and Kenyatta Walker. We will now pause a minute until the shakes stop.

Better?

Look, it isn't as if the Bucs haver never found a player in the late stages of round one. Why, they took Derrick Brooks, a Hall of Famer, with the 28th pick in the 1995 draft, a terrific achievement.

Except for that, we have flashbacks that will haunt the staunchest Bucs' fan.

In 1978, the Bucs had the overall No. 1 pick for the third straight year. Yet, the team moved back 16 slots for a first, a second, a third and a fifth. They didn't get enough, but they salvaged themselves somewhat by drafting Doug Williams. Again, not bad.

But in 1979, the Bucs spent the 22nd draft pick on guard Ray Snell. In four years with the Bucs, Snell started only 35 games. Not enough.

In 1982, with the 17th pick, the Bucs' picked Sean Farrell...by mistake. They were trying to draft Booker Reese, for whom they traded their No. 1 the following year...a mistake.

In 1983, the Bucs had the 18th pick, but they had traded it away for two-sack Reese. By the way, it could have been Dan Marino.

After that, the Bucs drafted in the top 10 every year until 1996. That year, they had a mid-round  12th pick, which is about as high as the team could get this year even if it threw in its No. 2 pick. They picked Regan Upshaw. Oops.

In 1995, the team had the draft of its existence. It moved back and took Warren Sapp at No. 12. It moved up an took Brooks with the 28th pick.

In 1996, the Bucs had the 12th pick. They turned it into Regan Upshaw. Oops.

In 1997, the Bucs picked up Reidel Anthony at No. 16. Double oops.

In 1998, they took the 23rd pick and traded it to Oakland for two second-rounders.

In 1999, they traded the pick for Booger McFarland, who never did become Warren Sapp.

Want more? In 2000, the Bucs traded the No. 13 and No. 27 picks for Keyshawn Johnson and the sound of a man beating his own chest.

In 2001, the Bucs traded their 13th pick and their second round pick for Kenyatta Walker. Yikes.

In 2002, the Bucs traded two first-round picks and two seconds for Jon Gruden. Gruden was worth it, because he delivered a Super Bowl, but the two picks (the first-rounders were 21st and 32nd) proved costly for an aging team.

In 2004, the Bucs drafted Michael Clayton No. 16.

In 2006, the Bucs stayed with the No. 23 pick and took Davin Joseph. A solid, safe pick.

In 2008, the Bucs picked troubled Aqib Talib at No. 20. Talib fell because of several positive drug tests while in college. He lived in the headlines while he was here.

In 2009, the Bucs also had the No. 19 pick. They moved up, however, because they were afraid of losing Josh Freeman.

In 2011, Tampa Bay took Adrian Clayborn with the 20th pick.

Tampa Bay gave its 13th pick in 2013 for an injured Darrelle Revis, who they didn't keep.

And now, here we are again, with the Bucs looking for stardom in a pile of glitter. Dalvin Cook? David Njoku? Obi Melifonwu? Cam Robinson?

Know this: The odds are heavy against the Bucs finding a star. A solid, safe player may be the best hope.

And as for those who say that Cook is overpriced until the end of the first round, remember this: The Bucs don't have a pick late in the first round.

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