Each Thursday, the Bucs historian himself, Paul Stewart of BucPower.com gives us a history lesson on your Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thanks to Paul and be sure to check out BucPower.com and learn about your team, it’s history and what makes us all fans – welcome to ThrowBuc Thursdays!
The Bucs went into Tony Dungy’s second NFL draft coming off the back of a promising 6-10 season and with a new sense of optimism around the Bay area. They had two No.1 draft picks having traded a second rounder the previous year to San Diego and they owned the 8th and 12th selections ahead of the draft.
They then pulled off two deals, the first with the Jets to move up to No.6 in the first round in exchange for a fourth rounder and then back down to 12 with Seattle for an extra third rounder. Armed with picks 12 and 16, the Bucs stayed in the state taking RB Warrick Dunn and WR Reidel Anthony with those initial selections.
Dunn, of course, was a tremendous pick and one of the best backs in team history forming a five-year partnership with Mike Alstott that is well remembered by Buccaneer fans. Anthony was somewhat of a disappointment but when you look at some of the other receivers selected in the 1997 draft, he actually turned out to be one of the best.
The next two picks were solid offensive linemen, T Jerry Wunsch and G Frank Middleton both of whom started for several years. CB Ronde Barber had such a terrible rookie season that he was almost released. Time has told that patience was proven correct on that decision but can you imagine the 1997 version of Twitter being all over the future Hall of Famer for his awful debut against the Cardinals in September of that season?
LB Al Singleton went on to start for the Super Bowl Bucs as part of a six-year Tampa Bay career and TE Patrick Hape played four seasons for the Bucs as well. Even 6th round pick CB Al Harris who did not make the Buccaneer roster went on to a long and successful NFL career with the Eagles.
One strange quirk of the 1997 1st round was that three of the other picks went on to play for the Buccaneers in future years, WR Ike Hilliard, DE Reinard Wilson and LB Dwayne Rudd.