1990: Whiffing on Keith McCants with two other Hall of Fame options
After yet another dismal season in 1989 to close out the 1980’s, the Buccaneers were “awarded” with the fourth pick in the 1990 Draft with the Chargers having the fifth. This draft would go on to be littered with busts at premier positions but did feature three future Hall of Famers in the first round. One of which was Cortez Kennedy who the Seahawks took at three and the other two were a Florida Gators running back named Emmitt Smith a linebacker out of USC named Junior Seau. Perhaps you’ve heard of them.
The latter Canton-bound players were on the board when it came time for the Bucs to pick at five. One can imagine what happened next.
The Buccaneers had a plethora of needs as you can imagine, including pretty much an entire defense, and running back. New head coach Ray Perkins fell for the age-old trap that is the NFL Combine, and was scared off by Emmitt Smith’s 40 time, thinking Smith’s wheels would quickly fall off leading to a short career. Perkins decided to roll with a Gary Anderson and that year’s second round pick, Reggie Cobb, at running back going forward. Emmitt Smith, became Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.
As for the defense, Seau evidently wasn’t too keen on donning the creamsicles and playing for the Bucs (that old chestnut) so the Buccaneers decided to pass. Besides, Perkins and the Bucs already had their sites set on a dominant pass-rusher that rolled with the Alabama Crimson Tide with 4.5 Combine speed, Keith McCants.
McDants was a huge linebacker to boot at 6-feet-3-inches and 265 pounds. The Buccaneers snatched him up with their first-round pick. He would eventually switch to defensive end due to his size but would reward the Buccaneers with only 12 sacks in 42 games and not ultimately amount to much in the NFL. He would get notoriety as one of the poster children for post-retirement problems with players sadly enough though. The late great Seau, on the other hand, would go on to be one of the greatest linebackers to ever play, was taken the very next pick by the Chargers. If you haven’t noticed, pass rusher hasn’t exactly been the Buccaneers’ forte in the draft. Free agency, now that’s a different story.