Don’t you love the NFL offseason? It’s full of rankings that no one will agree with, tiers that cause anger among fan bases, and hot takes that would make the Florida sun feel like you’re touching it.
While we base many of these rankings on subjective opinions, I will found mine on stats and facts, with a few of my own takes sprinkled in. Without further ado, here are my top 10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers players of all time.
10. Lavonte David
There are so many players that deserve this number 10 spot, but I had to give the nod to Lavonte David. David is as good, or better than his peers of Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly. In his first eight seasons, he has stats that are comparable to Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher. I hope the world will get to see just how good Lavonte David is in 2020.
9. Hardy Nickerson
Ask anyone in the building, and they’ll tell you that Hardy Nickerson was the ultimate glue guy. When he arrived from Pittsburgh in 1993, Nickerson made an immediate impact in the locker room, and on the stat sheet. Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks both site him as the first genuine leader in meeting rooms and on the practice field. It was Nickerson’s leadership ability, that brought the defense to dominance.
8. Paul Gruber
Paul Gruber remains as the greatest Buccaneers offensive lineman of all time. Unfortunately, his career is largely overshadowed by only two playoff appearances in 11 years. That doesn’t take away Gruber’s pure dominance throughout the 1990s. His 183 games started is the most for any lineman in Buccaneer’s history, and his name will forever be etched in the ring of honor.
7. Mike Alstott
A fan favorite, Mike Alstott comes in at number seven. It was a privilege to watch Alstott absolutely dominate defenses up the middle for so many years. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and put on a defender on skates was also highly underrated. Mike Alstott is another player without glorified stats, but on 4th and one, you could count on him to get the job done.
6. Mike Evans
Mike Evans is the best player in Buccaneers history to play on the offensive side of the ball. With six straight 1,000 yard seasons, Evans has shattered record books in Tampa Bay. When it’s all said and done, I think Evans may even move into the top five of my rankings, but for now, he holds down the number six spot.
5. John Lynch
John Lynch gets largely ignored by the national media for his contribution to the 2002 defense. He doesn’t have incredible stats, but the fact is, without Lynch, the entire defense falls apart. The Tampa 2 is designed for a hard-hitting safety to lay a hammer over the middle. Without it, the seam will be wide open for any receiver to cross. I think Lynch will eventually get his induction into the Hall of Fame, but he might have to wait for an easier class.
4. Ronde Barber
Can I just say, how is Ronde Barber still not in the Hall of Fame? He leads cornerbacks in total tackles and is the only player with 45 interceptions and 25 sacks. Barber was a key piece in the Buccaneers Tampa Two defense of the early 2000s and deserves national recognition.
3. Warren Sapp
Not everyone’s favorite off the field of personality, but it’s hard to deny Warren Sapp’s impact in the 2002 Super Bowl run. You will see a theme in the last three players. Sapp was the 1999 defensive player of the year, with 11 combined pro bowls and all-pro awards. One of only three Hall of Fame players inducted as a Buccaneer, Sapp is easily a top-three player.
2. Lee Roy Selmon
Newer fans might not recognize this name, but Lee Roy Selmon was a force in the 70s and 80s. His stats may only show 23 sacks, but you have to remember that sacks were not officially recorded until 1982, six years into Selmon’s career. The Hall of Famer, six-time pro bowler, one-time all-pro and 1979 defensive player of the year gets the nod at number two.
1. Derrick Brooks
Arguably the king of Tampa Bay Sports, Derrick Brooks comes in at number one. A Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer, Brooks was the pinnacle of the stout Tampa Bay defense. The 2002 defensive player of the year, 11-time pro bowler, and five-time All-Pro, Brooks is one of the best linebackers to ever play the game. He was a homegrown product in Florida and will live on as a legend in the Tampa Bay area.
– Gerald McCoy – Third all time in sacks
– Simeon Rice – Buccaneers leader in sacks
– James Wilder – Buccaneers rushing leader
– Jimmie Giles – Ring of Honor inductee
Do you agree with these rankings? Would you move any players up or down the list, and most importantly, who did I leave out that deserves a spot? Next up, I pass the baton to Johnny Dean. Let’s see those rankings!