by Adam Fournier, Ourlads’ Intern
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a rough time the past few seasons, culminating with their bottom of the league finish in 2014. The Buccaneers only won two games last year and have not appeared in the playoffs since the 2007-08 season. Part of the issue the Bucs have had is a lack of production from their draft picks in recent years with the past five being no different.
The Bucs started off this five-year stretch with a bang, selecting Gerald McCoy with the 3rd overall pick in the 2010 draft. McCoy has been a dominant force in his five years in Tampa Bay and has emerged as a top tier interior defensive lineman. He has been selected to the last three Pro Bowls and is one of the better defensive players in the league going into the 2015 season. The rest of this draft class was not quite as successful. The 2nd round pair of Brian Price and Arrelious Benn were huge flops for their draft positions. Price played only two seasons for the Bucs before being offloaded for a 7th round pick in 2012, and he is already out of the league. Benn made some contributions at wide receiver for three seasons but nothing significant. He was traded after three seasons and is currently in Jacksonville. One player that started off with a bang but injuries derailed his career is Mike Williams. Williams came out swinging with an excellent rookie season and was a solid receiver for the next two years. However things went downhill after he signed a six-year extension in 2013. Williams spent the majority of the 2013 season on IR and was traded the following offseason to Buffalo. His career appears to be over as Buffalo released him during the 2014 season and is still without a team. The rest of the draft were pretty much non-factors although they did get some contributions out of 7th rounders Dekoda Watson and Erik Lorig. Neither is still with the team making Gerald McCoy the only player in this draft class still with the Bucs.
The 2011 draft class was even worse, and it is highlighted by the failures of 1st rounder Adrian Clayborn and 2nd rounder Da’Quan Bowers. Clayborn missed nearly half of his time in Tampa injured and left for Atlanta in the 2015 offseason. Bowers was a non-factor struggling with injuries as well and has started only ten games in four years. He was allowed to walk after the 2014 season to test free agency but returned to Tampa in late July after not landing a deal in free agency. He will be fighting to make the roster for 2015. The Bucs got the most production out of this draft from 3rd rounder Mason Foster. He was nothing special, but started 54 games in four years before moving on to Chicago in 2015. The rest of the draft produced next to nothing with only Luke Stocker still with the team. Stocker is way down the depth chart at tight end, so this draft produced no starters for the 2015 season.
The 2012 draft does not get much better although the Bucs did get Lavonte David in the 3rd round. David has emerged as a top linebacker in the NFL although he has yet to get a Pro Bowl selection. He was voted a 1st team All-Pro in 2013 and is the second best player on the defense, behind McCoy, going into 2015. However this draft will be remembered for the 7th overall selection of Mark Barron. Barron never lived up to that high of a selection and was offloaded to St. Louis during the 2014 season. He still has the chance to turn it around in St. Louis, but as far as the pick by the Bucs goes, this is one of the bigger misses in the past five years. The most intriguing pick of this draft so far is Doug Martin. Martin had a breakout rookie campaign and was a Pro Bowl selection. However injuries have slowed him down in the past two years, and he has yet to recapture the magic from his rookie season. The jury is still out on Martin but he will have to stay healthy.
The 2013 draft class seems to be a little better so far, but there is not a whole lot to talk about. The lack of a 1st round pick hurts their potential impact as a whole but Johnathan Banks and Akeem Spence have been solid in their two years. Both will be starters on the Tampa Bay defense in 2015. Mike Glennon started 18 games at quarterback in the last two years but was nothing special. He is likely to take a backseat in 2015 with the arrival of Jameis Winston. William Gholston and Mike James have contributed mostly in reserve roles and will likely do the same this year. Only time will tell with this class, but it looks to be decent.
The 2014 class looks to have the potential to be a good one thanks to the offensive trio Mike Evans, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Charles Sims. Evans was a part of the legendary 2014 receiver class and had a fantastic rookie year. He is one of the best young receivers in the league for the 2015 season and is the unquestioned number one receiver on the team. Seferian-Jenkins also showed glimpses of promise during his rookie season and will be starting at tight end in 2015. Sims made a solid contribution in a reserve role even with injuries slowing down his season. He is expected to do the same in 2015. The rest of the class did not do much and expectations are not high for 2015, but there is still time. It is too early to know for sure, but this class certainly has potential.