Lavonte David did not make the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but his debut NFL season was so impressive that it suggests possible all-star trips in his future. If David does indeed make it to Hawaii during his career, he will be adding to the Bucs’ considerable Pro Bowl legacy at the linebacker position.
No position has sent more players to the Pro Bowl in franchise history than linebacker, and – thanks primarily to Derrick Brooks – no position has more overall selections. Five different linebackers have represented Tampa Bay in the all-star game: David Lewis, Hugh Green, Hardy Nickerson, Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles. Those five have combined for 20 overall Pro Bowl trips, 11 of them belong to Brooks and five to Nickerson.
However, Vincent Jackson’s selection on Tuesday as Calvin Johnson’s injury replacement has closed the gap quite a bit. Now Buccaneer receivers are just one behind their linebacker counterparts in terms of number of different players selected. Jackson joins Mark Carrier, Keyshawn Johnson and Keenan McCardell in that select group. In terms of overall selections, the receivers have a LONG way to go to catch Brooks and company.
Here’s how the numbers break down in terms of the total of different Buc players selected to the Pro Bowl at each position, subsequent to Tuesday’s news about Jackson but before RB Doug Martin and S Ronde Barber, also alternates, potentially get the call.
5 – Linebacker
4 – Wide Receiver
3 – Cornerback, Defensive Tackle, Quarterback
2 – Center, Defensive End, Guard, Running Back
1 – Fullback, Kicker, Kick Returner, Long-snapper, Punter, Safety, Tackle, Tight End
0 – Special-teamer
With tackle Donald Penn making it in 2010, kick returner Clifton Smith in 2008 and long-snapper Dave Moore in 2006, the Buccaneers have finally checked off most of the Pro Bowl positions. The only remaining one at which a Tampa Bay player has never been selected is “special-teamer.”
Given that the Pro Bowl does list separate free and strong safety positions, we could also split hairs and add free safety to that “0″ row. John Lynch is the only Buccaneer to make the Pro Bowl at the safety position, and he was clearly a strong safety. Barber, a free safety, could change that. The Pro Bowl also lists both inside and outside linebackers, but the Bucs have both of those covered with the likes Hardy Nickerson and Derrick Brooks.
Again, the linebackers lead the way in terms of total selections, thanks to those two. Next are the defensive ends and defensive tackles, both with eight and both beholden to one player in particular – Lee Roy Selmon on the end and Warren Sapp in the middle. Cornerback has seven (five of them belonging to Barber) and fullback has six (all of them belonging to Mike Alstott).