As we progress closer to present day in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ draft history, you may start to see a few more recognizable names. The drafts were pretty bad in the mid 2000′s, which led to the lack of talent at the end of Jon Gruden’s tenure. That’s why Gruden truly made his own bed and laid in it, combining with Bruce Allen to draft poorly and fail to build up a franchise for the long-term. The 2006 was one of the better ones, which as we look through the players selected, you’ll see why that’s not really saying much.
Round 1 (23rd overall) – Davin Joseph – Guard – Oklahoma
This is a pick that the Buccaneers got absolutely correct, as Joseph has developed into a team leader and excellent football player. The two-time Pro Bowler suffered a season-ending injury in the 2012 preseason, but had been a stalwart contributor to the Buccaneers’ offensive line for the previous six seasons. He’s one of the best guards in the NFL, and a return to health in 2013 will be a huge boost for the Buccaneers. Davin is also well respected across the league for his foundation, “Davin’s Dream Team“, which is a program that aims to help children from inner city schools succeed
Round 2 (59th overall) – Jeremy Trueblood – Offensive Tackle – Boston College
It’s hard to call this pick a failure, because Jeremy Trueblood was a staple on the Buccaneers’ offensive line for the past few seasons. But it wasn’t the perfect pick. He was inconsistent, blocking well in certain games, and acting like a turnstile in others. Take the game against Miami in 2009, for instance, when he allowed 10 QB hurries and a sack. He also had quite the affinity for drawing out the referee’s flag, and was a target of Buccaneers’ fan frustration thanks to his drive killing infractions. Trueblood was allowed to leave this offseason, which isn’t a surprise considering he was benched after week one of the 2012 season.
Round 3 (90th overall) – Maurice Stovall – Wide Receiver – Notre Dame
Maurice Stovall was a player who offered more promise than proven success early in his college career, as the Notre Dame wideout was benched by Ty Willingham for mental mistakes and dropping the football. It was the coaching change to Charlie Weis that brought out the best in Stovall, who shot up draft boards and wound up with the Buccaneers in 2006. The 6 foot 5 inch tall Stovall had all the tools needed to be an NFL receiver, but never put it together, still struggling a bit with his catching ability, and failing to show the get-open ability needed in the NFL. Stovall would fail to stick around with the Lions or Jaguars after being let go by the Buccaneers, and is currently a free agent.
Round 4 (122nd overall) – Alan Zemaitis – Cornerback – Penn State
Hold on tight kids, this draft gets ugly in a hurry. For Zemaitis, it might not have been talent that caused his downfall, but the inability to stay healthy. He tore his labrum at Penn State, and it cost him his rookie year. He would then fail to catch on with the Buccaneers, and would transition to the Canadian Football League, where he played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He is now a coach at Susquehanna University.
Round 5 (156th overall) – Julian Jenkins – Defensive End – Stanford
Jenkins came out of Standford as a big, quick defensive end who had an impressive senior year with the Cardinal. He seemed well worth the 156th pick in the draft, but made a total of nine tackles in the NFL, and didn’t last past the 2006 season. He would go on to play in the CFL as well, and win a Grey Cup. He know works for a company that helps athletes gain exposure to colleges in the recruiting process.
Round 6 (194th overall) – Bruce Gradkowski – Quarterback – Toledo
Gradkowski was a favorite of Jon Gruden, who brought him in to develop him despite his sixth round prospect status. He had a great preseason during his first year with the Buccaneers, and would get the chance right away to play due to Chris Simms‘ spleen injury. He had an extremely impressive debut, but his lack of arm strength would let him down once teams started to get film on him, and he was waived in 2008. He has since been a journeyman backup, starting a few games for the Raiders and spending time on the bench for the Browns and Bengals before moving to Pittsburgh this offseason on a three year contract.
Round 6 (202nd overall) – T. J. Williams – Tight End – North Carolina State
Williams failed to make a single catch in his one year NFL career. He was let go by the Buccaneers before the 2007 season began, and has not played in professional football since.
Round 7 (235th overall) – Justin Phinisee – Cornerback – Oregon
Phinisee failed to play in an NFL game, despite hanging around as a practice squad and training camp player over the course of three years. He would go on to play in the PDFL and CFL.
Round 7 (241st overall) – Charles Bennett – Defensive End – Clemson
Bennett would make 2 tackles in 3 games in 2006, and would not play again in the NFL. The Clemson product would go on to make the roster of the Tennessee Titans and a UFL team, but was never big enough to catch on and make a contribution.
Round 7 (244th overall) Tim Massaquoi – Tight End – Michigan
The two-time all Big 10 selection had the size and catching ability to be more than worthy of a late-round flier. He was waived before he got a chance to make the Buccaneers’ roster, and would instead be active but fail to make an impact with the Dolphins in 2006. He did not last past the 2007 season, and has failed to play professionally since.