Was The 2012 Draft Bucs’ Best?

May 28th, 2013

Donnie Abraham, now coaching at Clearwater High School, was a damn fine cornerback for the Bucs.

Joe can’t remember a time like when the Bucs hit back-to-back home runs in drafting running back Doug Martin and outside linebacker Lavonte David in consecutive picks, after starting the 2012 draft with a solid extra-base hit in Mark Barron.

Was this the best Bucs’ draft in the team’s history?

The pride of Northwestern and overseer of “The Captain’s Blog,” on Buccaneers.com, Scott Smith, isn’t buying it yet. While Smith admits last year’s draft was fantastic, he has it tied with two other Bucs drafts as best ever, 1996 and 1988.

1996: The Bucs took two defensive linemen in the first round in Tony Dungy’s first draft but it was the second and third rounds, which produced Mike Alstott and Donnie Abraham, that really made this class. Alstott led the team in receiving and scoring and was a good complement in the running game to Errict Rhett. Abraham quickly took over the starting right corner job and led the team with five interceptions. Those two first-round linemen, Regan Upshaw and Marcus Jones, didn’t have an enormous impact, but Upshaw did start all 16 games at right end and had four sacks. Fourth-rounder Jason Odom started six games at right tackle and one at left tackle. Sixth-round WR Nilo Silvan was the team’s primary kickoff return man.

1988: Future Ring of Honor inductee Paul Gruber went from the fourth overall pick to the starting job at left tackle without pause, beginning an ironman streak in which he wouldn’t miss an offensive snap for five years. Lars Tate led the team in rushing and scored a then-Buc rookie record eight touchdowns. DL Pig Goff started six games and pitched in with two sacks and three fumble recoveries. G Robert Bruhin also started six games on the offensive line. Fifth-round RB William Howard not only became the starter at fullback but got almost the exact same number of carries and yards as Tate. Putting this one over the top was ninth-round find Reuben Davis, who immediately became the starter at LE in the Bucs’ 3-4 front and had three sacks. Even 11th-round pick WR Frank Pillow found his way to 15 catches and 206 yards.

Obviously, time will tell if the 2012 studs thrive or regress. Martin already has logged a Pro Bowl game.

Joe is glad Smith mentioned Donnie Abraham, who now coaches at Clearwater High School. It seems as though Abraham is one of the forgotten Bucs, but damn, he played really good ball and was a fixture on those Father Dungy defenses.

38 Responses to “Was The 2012 Draft Bucs’ Best?”

  1. Jrock Says:

    I know we only got two good players in the 1995 draft… but we got two Hall of Fame players. We’re just going to leave that one out of the discussion?

  2. Bobby Says:

    @Jrock….I was thinking the same thing. Two HOF’s in one draft…maybe only the Steelers have done that. Could be wrong.

  3. DJE Says:

    What about the 5-2 Wyche draft in 95? Yes Dungy won with Wyche drafted players of Sapp & Brooks. Just as Gruden later won with Dungy players…..

  4. Bruneau01 Says:

    Yeah, we did kinda get these two guys named Brooks and Sapp in the 1995 draft (2 Hall of Fame players?). Players, who not only set the tone for the Buc”s successful defenses for years, but were very effective over their long careers. Honestly, without those 2 players, I would question whether the Bucs would have made that successful run in the late 90s and early 00’s.

    Not quite sure how the draft of 1995 was overlooked. ;0?

  5. Kalind Says:

    This is nonsense. Smith’s choice of 88 is skewed by the fact that that was some terrible football being played at the time, so of course Draft Picks will play. But its not like they put up freakish numbers. Ill give you 96, well done draft right there. And Dom’s 2012. Third has to be, HAS TO BE, Sapp Brooks draft. Look who came out of there, two HOFs and all time greats. I didnt see any all time greats in the 88 draft.

  6. T in Orlando Says:

    I don’t know how the 95′ draft class doesn’t get mentioned, but if looking at the criteria outlined by the 96 and 88 classed, I would think the 99 class should also be brought up; McFarland, King, Grammatica and Dexter Jackson (the SuperBowl MVP, not App. State v Mich MVP).

    I hope the ’12 class does become the slam dunk best draft class the Bucs have ever had, that should make for good football for the next 8-10 years.

  7. tonytwocents Says:

    95 draft, hands down. end of discussion.

  8. Bruneau01 Says:

    …and Sapp 1.12 and Brooks 1.28 were back to back…just saying.

  9. lightningbuc Says:

    WestCoastBuc will probably argue the ’09 draft class was the best when the crafty “rock star”, with the urging of Raheem (allegedly), traded up in the first round to draft Freeman.

  10. tonytwocents Says:

    without Sapp and Brooks, nobody knows who Dungy is, what the Tampa 2 is, etc. Sapp made that the angriest line in the NFL for years. Brooks was the Don who kept everyone in check. Warrens line, and Brook’s leadership set the foundation for one of the best Defenses of all time.

  11. Rob Says:

    Everyone’s covered this, but until the 2012 draft picks have all-pro careers and are leaders of a Superbowl winner, there’s no question that the 1995 draft is the best in team history.

  12. WestCoastBucsFan Says:

    “with the urging of Raheem (allegedly)”

    There was nothing “alleged” about it. Dom and Rah BOTH said Free was drafted largely on the knowledge Rah gained while coaching for a year at K-state.

    This isn’t some secret, Joe has said this several times.

    Either way your wrong, 1995 was, by far, the best draft. Back to back Hall of Famer’s says it all. Oh, and drafted by a 24-40 GM at the time, imagine that.

  13. Bucnjim Says:

    Ryan Leaf, Tony Mandarich & Ki-Jana Carter could have all started for that ’88 team and done as well. Talk about a team void of talent! I know I was there for those years.

  14. J 2.0 Says:

    1995 draft. Hands down. Not even close. Can’t take Mr Smith’s article seriously for overlooking that.

  15. robert Says:

    Barron, Martin, David.

    Too early to tell, but could be thre guys out of this class who could compete with the 95 draft.

    Their well ahead of the curve coming out of the gate. It’s easy to say, 18 years later, too early to tell with this draft.

    but it has the potential to be the best.

  16. Bucnjim Says:

    ’97 wasn’t bad either with Dunn, Barber & Singleton.

  17. lightningbuc Says:

    West Coast,

    “drafted by a 24-40 GM at the time”

    Again, you’re making stuff up. McKay became GM in ’93, so don’t think he had 64 games under his belt by the ’95 draft.

  18. WestCoastBucsFan Says:

    Even better! He was 18-30 at the time and would go on to be 24-40! Thank you!

  19. Bucnjim Says:

    2000-2008 the wasted years…..WTH If you take away Cadillac Williams & maybe Ruud (I’m not a fan of his) you have almost nothing for 8 years. This is why the cupboard is bare my friends!

  20. lightningbuc Says:

    Nice try WEST COAST. Keep trying, you’re getting closer. Third time’s a charm!

  21. Justin Says:

    The ’95 Bucs first round alone was one of the greatest NFL drafts. Scott Smith should stick to Buccaneers insider videos.

  22. T in Orlando Says:


    considering 4 1st rounders and 2 2nd rounders between 2000 and 2004 were used in acquiring talent that helped lead the team to a superbowl victory, can’t exactly say “nothing”.

    Granted, I will say they didn’t do much with the picks they did have. I would throw one more name out in the time frame, Davin Joseph, he’d definitely better than Ruud.

  23. WestCoastBucsFan Says:

    Maybe take a closer look yourself lightning:


  24. Bucnjim Says:

    Joseph was 2006? Sorry must have missed it & yes he is better than Ruud. I hear what you are saying, but they had 6 first rounder’s during that time and only hit on two.

  25. WestCoastBucsFan Says:

    Pre draft he was 11-21, that year he went 18-30 and finished the following year at 24-40. Losing is losing.


  26. Joe Says:

    Yeah, in NFL Network’s “Top Ten Drafts,” the Bucs made the list with Sapp and Brooks.

    Joe’s guessing Smith was discussing draft depth.

  27. Macabee Says:

    Here’s a look at Dominik’s era!


  28. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I read that the other day, Macabee…very good article. It;s too bad Bleacher Report doesn’t pay guys that write that good.

  29. teacherman777 Says:

    Donnie Abraham is not forgotten by ME!

    He was the teacher to Ronde. He was great for for us even before the,

    1995 draft, when we got Brooks and Sapp in the same year.

    Donnie Abraham kept it real for the Bucs.

    Happy to see him gettin mentioned here!

    Thx Joe.

  30. WestCoastBucsFan Says:

    I like it Macabee!

    Mark Dominik is a sneaky-good drafter, able to create a talented, young core for a team that was riddled with roster holes when he inherited it.

    What should be our biggest takeaway from this review is that Dominik had done a nice job at reshaping the team’s roster through the draft. Sure, big-name free agents like Vincent Jackson help, but the club’s heart is in its drafting.

  31. Rob Says:

    Michael Clayton looked pretty awesome after his first season too.

  32. rick Says:


  33. Brandon Says:

    There’s simply no touching the 95 draft with two eventual Hall-of-Famers… even 2nd round pick, Melvin Johnson, held down the fort with 26 starts and 4 picks in 3 seasons before Damien Robinson took over (and eventually gave way to Dexter Jackson). DB Jerry Wilson may not have ever played for the Bucs, but he bounced around the league for 11 seasons.

  34. Brandon Says:

    I love Martin and David, but I think it is far too early to annoint them great players over the course of their careers.

    NFL history is littered with RBs that come in their first year or two and light it up like Martin only to become an afterthought the following seasons. For some (Curt Warner, Robert Edwards, Cadillac Williams, Kevin Jones, Olandis Gary) injury shortened or ended their career while for others, the injuries to their careers were self-inflicted (Timmy Smith, Errict Rhett, Bobby Humphrey, Joseph Addai, Dominick Williams, Mike Anderson) or they simply weren’t that good to begin with… seriously, who remembers Dominick Williams for the Texans… I don’t think he even made the Texans the following year.

    As far as Martin is concerned, I would be ecstatic if he was 75% as productive as he was last season. If he is or more and continues to string together good seasons, then we can talk about him being a great pick. As of right now, he was a very good pick, no reason to think otherwise.

    I think David has the best chance of seeing long-term success. Generally speaking, good Will LBs are rarely flashes in the pan. If he’s really good right now, there’s a strong chance he’ll be even better two years from now.

    Hopefully, Barron can improve from last season. He still has a lot to prove before we can consider him a good pick.

  35. Adam L. Says:

    This is just the author at Buccaneers.com writing something different and shirking the obvious just to drive conversation. A draft where you have 2 misses in the first round is NOT a “best draft ever.”

    I’m sad most of you took this bait.

  36. BigMacAttack Says:

    I’m with the 1995 draft crowd. How can you say any was better? I sure cant because those two were the nucleus of the Super Bowl winners. Sapp changed the Game and Brooks is my favorite Buc and NFL player ever. His instincts and reactions were second to none. He is such an awesome person too.

    As for the 2012 class the jury is still out and they could surpass any other class in time but not today. 2012 also brought in Nicks and Jackson. If Wright has a good year then it’s really a home run. The Bucs should kicka$$ this season and I can’t wait to get this party started.

  37. john Says:

    if they would have taken Keackly instead of Baron then it would have been a good draft. But to be a great team you have to hit on your late round picks and we haven’t in a looooooooooong time. you would have had with those 3 perennial pro bowlers. mark will never make a pro bowl.

  38. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    ” mark will never make a pro bowl.”

    That’s a lol statement if I’ve ever heard one. Funny how Mike Mayock said his floor is as a pro bowl player, yet the great anonymous John and all of his wealth of expertise says he will never make a pro bowl. Although Mike Mayock is probably the best analyst in the game, John knows much more.

    I seriously wonder how people can actually hit “submit comment” and put it all out there for us all to see.