After gladly surrendering their first-round pick in Sunday’s trade for All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis, the Bucs were left with a draft hand that began with the #43 overall pick in Round Two and the #73 overall selection in Round Three. As it turned out, they decided against trying to trade up or down and stayed put at those two very selections, eventually nabbing Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks in the second frame and North Carolina State QB Mike Glennon in the third.
On one hand, those picks weren’t shocking. In his pre-draft press conference on Monday, Buccaneers G.M. Mark Dominik had been asked directly and pointedly about those two positions, reflecting a widespread belief that the team was looking for depth in the secondary and under center. The Bucs may have had a variety of options in mind, but the directions they ended up going in surprised few.
On the other hand, the selections of Banks and Glennon were rare in terms of the team’s drafting history. Rare, but promising.
Over the course of 37 previous drafts, Tampa Bay had only elected to use a second-round pick on a cornerback twice. While that position has often been adequately filled by mid-round picks and free agent acquisitions, the only two previous second-round corners were Ricky Reynolds in 1987 and Brian Kelly in 1998. That’s good company for Banks, as Reynolds and Kelly are among the most productive players in team history at that position.
Reynolds stepped immediately into a starting role as a rookie in 1987 and played seven seasons as a Buccaneer, never giving up his starting job. He is tied for ninth in franchise history with 17 interceptions. Kelly started out as a nickel back but eventually became a key starter on the dominant Buc defense in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. He was a starter and the team’s leading interceptor on the 2002 Super Bowl team and his 22 picks rank seventh in Buc annals.
Glennon is only the second quarterback the Buccaneers have ever selected in the third round, but the rarity of his draft position is actually more significant than that. It has simply been extremely uncommon for Tampa Bay to take a signal-caller anywhere in the middle rounds. There have been five first rounders, including the USFL dispersal draft (Doug Williams, Steve Young, Vinny Testaverde, Trent Dilfer and Josh Freeman) and plenty of late-round fliers, from Parnell Dickinson to Mike Shula to Bruce Gradkowski. But in 37 years of picking passers, the Bucs have only used a second, third or fourth-round choice on that position on three previous occasions.
Those three: Craig Erickson in 1992, Shaun King in 1999 and Chris Simms in 2003.
No, that is not a list of the greatest quarterbacks in franchise history. However, neither is it a discouraging bunch, overall. Erickson came to Sam Wyche’s first Buc team under unusual circumstances, having actually been drafted by Philly out of the University of Miami in 1991. He was recovering from a knee injury at the time and he never reached agreement with the Eagles, so he was back in the draft for the Buccaneers in ’92. That was at the tail end of the Vinny Testaverde era, so Erickson got to start for most of two season (1993-94) before new first-rounder Trent Dilfer took ever. The Bucs weren’t particularly good at that time, but Erickson did throw for over 6,000 yards and toss 34 TDs to 31 INTs.
King, a second-round pick in ’99, got an unexpected opportunity to start at the tail end of his rookie year after a red-hot (at the time) Dilfer got hurt in early December. King played well enough to help the Bucs, with their amazing defense, make it all the way to within a few minutes of the Super Bowl before they fell in St. Louis in the NFC Championship Game. King started in 2000 but was underwhelming and the team brought in free agent Brad Johnson to take over as the starter. King was a reserve on the 2002 Super Bowl team.
Simms was the last pick of the third round in 2003, months after the Bucs won the Super Bowl. He eventually took over for Johnson and had some good moments in 2005 and 2006 but saw his tenure in Tampa essentially ended by an unusual spleen injury. All told, the Bucs three mid-round QB selections threw 72 TD passes against 68 interceptions and started 65 regular-season games. None turned into a long-term franchise starter like Freeman, but it is easy to see how those picks were useful, with the chance to be something more.