But such is the way of life with trying to project how a player will develop, as very few, if any, are complete players out of college. It's been said time and time again that scouting is an inexact science, and when looking back at the past decade of Buccaneers draft classes, it's a sentiment that not only rings true—it rings often.
Just how bad have the Bucs draft classes been? Of the 53 players chosen between 2003 and 2008, otherwise known as the "Gruden era," only five players remain: Davin Joseph, Jeremy Trueblood, Quincy Black, Adam Hayward and Jeremy Zuttah.
Think about that for a moment: Just 10 percent of players selected by former coach Jon Gruden and GM Bruce Allen have lasted more than five years with the organization.
Which is anything but an impressive track record.
That said, we have the luxury of hindsight, so without further ado, let's revisit all 10 of the previous draft classes, from 2003 to 2012, and take a closer look at the 83 total players chosen in that period.
Round 1: (No Pick)
Round 2: DE Dewayne White (64)
Round 3: QB Chris Simms (97)
Round 4: T Lance Nimmo (130); C Austin King (133)
Round 5: G Sean Mahan (168)
Round 6: CB Torrie Cox (205)
Round 7: (No Pick)
This class missed on several fronts, notably Simms, who started just 15 games over five years, throwing 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions while losing a spleen in the process. Mahan and White were serviceable, with Mahan tallying 40 starts over six years, while White started 13 games over four seasons with the Bucs, recording 14 sacks. Cox played six seasons in Tampa Bay, recording one interception.
Round 1: WR Michael Clayton (15)
Round 2: (No Pick)
Round 3: LB Marquis Cooper (79)
Round 4: S Will Allen (111)
Round 5: G Jeb Terry (146)
Round 6: TE Nate Lawrie (181)
Round 7: WR Mark Jones (206); RB Casey Cramer (228); CB Lenny Williams (252)
Clayton burst onto the scene his rookie season, hauling in 80 catches for 1,193 yards and seven TDs. However, in the seven seasons that followed he combined for 143 catches for 1,762 yards and three TDs. Allen played sparingly, with just 26 starts in six seasons and has since moved on to Pittsburgh. In terms of production, the Bucs’ 2004 class was one of the worst classes of the past decade.
Round 1: RB Carnell “Cadillac” Williams (5)
Round 2: LB Barrett Ruud (36)
Round 3: TE Alex Smith (71); T Chris Colmer (91)
Round 4: G Dan Buenning (107)
Round 5: CB Donte Nicholson (141); WR Larry Brackins (155)
Round 6: DT Anthony Bryant (178)
Round 7: RB Rick Razzano (221); WR Paris Warren (225); CB Hamza Abdullah (231); WR J.R. Russell (253)
Much like Clayton the year before, Cadillac had a fantastic rookie campaign which culminated in being named the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately, Williams’ career was derailed twice by serious knee injuries in the years that followed and he never quite returned to form. Ruud, meanwhile, led the Bucs in tackles for four consecutive seasons before his unceremonious departure after the 2010 season. Smith started 43 games over four seasons, hauling in 129 catches for 1,252 and 11 TDs.
Round 1: G Davin Joseph (23)
Round 2: T Jeremy Trueblood (59)
Round 3: WR Maurice Stovall (90)
Round 4: CB Alan Zemaitis (122)
Round 5: DE Julian Jenkins (156)
Round 6: QB Bruce Gradkowski (194); TE T.J. Williams (202)
Round 7: CB Justin Phinisee (235); DE Charles Bennett (241); TE Tim Massaquoi (244)
Joseph and Trueblood have anchored the right side of the Bucs offensive line since being drafted in 2006, combining for 167 starts. Trueblood has been far more inconsistent than Joseph, though Davin has been bitten by the injury bug more often. Gradkowski saw brief playing time as a rookie due to necessity and has since bounced around to three other teams.
Former safety Sabby Piscitelli.
Round 1: DE Gaines Adams (4)
Round 2: G Arron Sears (35); S Sabby Piscitelli (64)
Round 3: LB Quincy Black (68)
Round 4: S Tanard Jackson
Round 5: DT Greg Peterson (141)
Round 6: LB Adam Hayward (182)
Round 7: T Chris Denman (214); CB Marcus Hamilton (245); RB Kenneth Darby (246)
In hindsight, the Adams pick is made worse by the fact the Niners took Patrick Willis 11th overall and the Jets landed Darrelle Revis with the 14th overall pick in the same class. Sears and Piscitelli flamed out, while Black and Jackson have served as respectable defenders. Hayward has been a special teams stud and is still on the roster.
Former linebacker Geno Hayes.
Round 1: CB Aqib Talib (20)
Round 2: WR Dexter Jackson (58)
Round 3: G Jeremy Zuttah (83)
Round 4: DT Dre Moore (115)
Round 5: QB Josh Johnson (160)
Round 6: LB Geno Hayes (175)
Round 7: RB Cory Boyd (238)
Though Talib was known more for his off-the-field issues, he was still Tampa Bay’s best pass defender during his stint. Jackson, on the other hand, was a complete bust and never lived up to the second-round selection. Zuttah has proven versatile, starting at center last season after spending his first four seasons at guard and is the lone player from this class still on the roster.
DT Roy Miller is an unrestricted free agent.
Round 1: QB Josh Freeman (17)
Round 2: (No Pick)
Round 3: DT Roy Miller (81)
Round 4: DE Kyle Moore (117)
Round 5: T Xavier Fulton (155)
Round 6: (No Pick)
Round 7: CB E.J. Biggers (217); WR Sammie Stroughter (233)
For better or worse, this is when Freeman was introduced as the quarterback of the future in Tampa Bay. He has gone on to throw for nearly 13,000 yards and 78 TDs in the four seasons since, but he’s been dogged by inconsistency. Miller is coming off perhaps his best season as a pro and is set to test the free-agent waters. Biggers and Stroughter have beaten the odds and have hung around thus far, proving to be valuable enough to warrant roster spots.
Round 1: DT Gerald McCoy (3)
Round 2: DT Brian Price (35); WR Arrelious Benn (39)
Round 3: CB Myron Lewis (67)
Round 4: WR Mike Williams (101)
Round 5: (No Pick)
Round 6: P Brent Bowden (172)
Round 7: S Cody Grimm (210); LB Dekoda Watson (217); DE Erik Lorig (253)
For the first time in his career McCoy stayed healthy and played all 16 games in 2012, eventually landing a Pro Bowl nod. McCoy has still yet to fully live up to a No. 3 overall selection, but he certainly showed flashes of his potential last season.
Price didn't cut it with head coach Greg Schiano and was shipped to the Bears last offseason.
Benn, like McCoy, has been injury prone and unable to fully show his abilities thus far. Hands down the real gem of this class has been Mike Williams, who has hauled in 193 passes for 2,731 yards and 23 TDs.
Round 1: DE Adrian Clayborn (20)
Round 2: DE Da'Quan Bowers (51)
Round 3: LB Mason Foster (84)
Round 4: TE Luke Stocker (104)
Round 5: S Ahmad Black (151)
Round 6: RB Allen Bradford (187)
Round 7: CB Anthony Gaitor (222); TE Daniel Hardy (238)
Clayborn had a respectable rookie season with 7.5 sacks, but missed 13 games last year due to a torn knee ligament. Bowers has only six starts through his first two seasons, but that's due in large part to the fact he has had to battle back from injuries in both seasons. Foster has been a mainstay at "Mike" linebacker and had perhaps his best season in 2012. Stocker, Black and Gaitor will have a chance to prove themselves this offseason and in training camp as the Bucs have needs at all three of their respective positions.
Round 1: S Mark Barron (7); RB Doug Martin (31)
Round 2: LB Lavonte David (58)
Round 3: (No Pick)
Round 4: (No Pick)
Round 5: LB Najee Goode (140)
Round 6: CB Keith Tandy (174)
Round 7: RB Michael Smith (212); TE Drake Dunsmore (233)
This class has the potential to go down as the single-greatest of the past decade, as Barron, Martin and David all played pivotal roles in the limited success the Bucs had in 2012. Barron didn't quite catch on as quick as many expected, but he is far and away their best defender in the secondary.
Martin had one of the greatest rookie seasons as a running back in league history, totaling nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards, while David was nothing short of a tackling machine combining for a team-high 139 tackles. Goode and Tandy should compete for more playing time this season and Smith has the ability to be a very dangerous returner.
You can reach J.J. by e-mail at BRJJRodriguez@gmail.com