With the 2016 NFL Draft quickly approaching, every team looks to hit it big on every player they decide to pick. From number one all they way to the seventh round, teams are looking to improve their roster with every decision. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had overall rough drafts over the last few years but have hit on some key players in the process. This is a series where we will take a look back and see just how good and bad the Bucs did in previous drafts beginning with 2012.
The 2012 draft started out with the Bucs trading back two spots in the first round with the Jacksonville Jaguars to draft with the 7th overall pick Alabama S Mark Barron. At the time Barron was predicted to become a Pro Bowl caliber player sooner rather than later. The kind of kid that you could build your defense around. Highly scouted and extremely talented, the Bucs were looking to do just that under Head Coach Greg Schiano’s new defensive system. On paper this was the perfect pick. Throughout the season Mark did his best on a defense that was ranked one of the worst in the NFL. Amassing 71 tackles, 10 pass deflections and 1 interception, he turned in a sub-par performance. In the long run, just like Schiano, the Bucs decided to go in another direction in the 2014 campaign and sent Barron packing. Getting two picks in the 2015 draft, he was traded to the St. Louis/L.A. Rams where he has been a solid contributor in a defense that ranks in the top 10 the last few seasons. Overall Grade: C He was a good player in a bad system. Maybe in the new look defense he would have been successful but at the time, this turned out to be a poor pick for Tampa. Missed Opportunities: Luke Kuechly, Ryan Tannehill, Chandler Jones.
Tampa was active again in the trade department by swapping 4th round picks with Denver and then moving back into the 1st round with the 31st pick and grabbing Boise State RB Doug Martin. This was a player the Bucs saw as one who could come in and become the featured back for the Buccaneers. The kind of player with all around ability to be dangerous in the passing and running game, a rare dual threat running back that are few and far between. Doug turned into exactly that, becoming a threat on every down and in every situation. Doug Martin did his best to show that moving up to draft him was a good decision by Tampa Bay. He then had a rookie season to remember, gaining a total of 1,926 yards from scrimmage, the third most in the history of the NFL as a rookie running back. He also had his name in the mix for rookie of the year, just behind Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. The Dougernaught is still on the Bucs roster and will continue to be a contributor as long as he is healthy for the next 5 years after his contract extension. Overall Grade: A+ This has been one of the players that you could keep around for his entire career. Small, tough, fast, great vision, soft hands, and a good blocker. He is a key to this offense and it’s going to be fun to see Jameis Winston grow with Doug by his side. Missed Opportunities: Bobby Wagner, Alshon Jeffery, Janoris Jenkins.
One of the most active drafts for the Bucs, they once again moved back up in the draft, this time with Houston to use the 58th overall pick Nebraska LB Lavonte David. David was scouted as an undersized linebacker who who was fast and very football intelligent. Someone who could come in and be on the field for all three downs and command the respect of the opposing offense. Tampa has heard all these same attributes before and it turned out pretty well. Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks was the same style of player, and it showed in David’s rookie season. With 147 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles, Lavonte turned in a solid season and showed the Bucs made another great decision to move up and draft him. Again, a player that is currently on the roster and should be around for many years to come. Overall Grade: A+ Tampa hit it big with this one. What an anchor and a leader this man turned out to be. His potential is outstanding and pairing him with newcomer Kwon Alexander, the LB corps is one offenses must game plan around. Missed Opportunities: Nick Foles, T.Y. Hilton, Oliver Vernon
After trading their third and forth round picks, the Buccaneers finally stayed with their pick in the fifth round and the 140th overall pick drafted West Virginia LB Najee Goode. Coaches drafting this far down are looking for a diamond in the rough. Goode was scouted as a solid special teams contributor. The Bucs did sign him to a rookie contract, but was cut before the season even began. This was not as successful a pick as their previous two. Philadelphia gave him a shot after the Bucs cut him, and has seen minimal game action. Overall Grade: F This one seemed like a shot in the dark. After moving up with their previous pick to get a LB, grabbing one here was confusing to say the least. Depth maybe? Missed Opportunities: Josh Norman, Alfred Morris
In the seventh round, Tampa wanted to see if they could add depth with the 174th overall pick in West Virginia CB Keith Tandy. He was a player that was versatile and at the time they were looking to move him around and see where he would benefit the team the most. His rookie season he played in 9 games making 3 tackles. Nothing to write home about, however he is still currently on the Bucs rooster, so that’s something, right? In 2016 he is going to compete for special teams duty. Overall Grade: C Not much to expect here. Making the roster this late in the draft is a win. Granted, he isn’t Tom Brady or anything. Missed Opportunities: Blair Walsh
With their final pick in the draft, 233rd overall, drafted Northwestern TE Drake Dunsmore. This one had red flags all over it. Before his senior year he had a serious surgery and had a rib removed. Drake didn’t make it out of training camp and actually retired from the NFL.Very sad news for Drake, horrible luck for the Bucs. Overall Grade: F There really isn’t much to say here. Took a shot on a guy who could come in at TE and play well. Just didn’t work out for either parties. Missed Opportunists: J.R. Sweezy (maybe not missed since we just signed him as a free agent)
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