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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have several needs heading into the 2009 NFL Draft. Some could be addressed in free agency, but others will be dealt with in April.

One of the positions of need for the Buccaneers is wide receiver. Both of Tampa Bay's starters – Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton – are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on Feb. 27. In addition, Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard will turn 38 and 33, respectively, this year.

Tampa Bay also has Maurice Stovall and Dexter Jackson under contract, but the former third- and second-round draft picks haven't lived up to expectations thus far, and Brian Clark, Paris Warren and Cortez Hankton are considered training camp bodies.

The Bucs are interested in re-signing Bryant and have been negotiating with his agent. If a deal isn't reached soon the Bucs could opt to franchise Bryant, which would guarantee him $9 million. Tampa Bay can certainly afford to do that given it is roughly $46 million under the salary cap.

Some believe Tampa Bay should invest its 2009 first-round draft pick in a wide receiver. The last time the Bucs did that was in 2004 when the team selected Clayton out of LSU.

Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), Jeremy Maclin (Missouri), Percy Harvin (Florida) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland) are considered first-round draft picks this year. Each player is extremely talented, but sometimes success at the college level doesn't translate into success in the NFL, especially for first-round wide receivers.

Over the past decade (1999-08), 40 different wide receivers have entered the NFL as first-round draft picks. Would you believe that over half of them (57.5 percent to be exact) have not given teams a fruitful return on their investment?

Take a look for yourself.

PERFORMED WELL
Calvin Johnson (Detroit) – 2nd overall pick – 2007 NFL Draft
126 catches for 2,087 yards (16.6 avg.) and 16 touchdowns

Ted Ginn Jr. (Miami) – 9th overall pick – 2007 NFL Draft
90 catches for 1,210 yards (13.4 avg.) and four touchdowns.

Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City) 23rd overall pick – 2007 NFL Draft
156 catches for 2,017 yards (12.9 avg.) and 12 touchdowns

Anthony Gonzalez (Indianapolis) – 32nd overall pick – 2007 NFL Draft
94 catches for 1,240 yards (13.2 avg.) and seven touchdowns

Santonio Holmes (Pittsburgh) – 25th overall pick 2006 NFL Draft
156 catches for 2,587 yards (16.6 avg.) and 15 touchdowns

Braylon Edwards (Cleveland) – 3rd overall pick 2005 NFL Draft
228 catches for 3,558 yards (15.6 avg.) and 28 touchdowns

Mark Clayton (Baltimore) – 22nd overall pick 2005 NFL Draft
200 catches for 2,636 yards (13.2 avg.) and 10 touchdowns

Roddy White (Atlanta) – 27th overall pick 2005 NFL Draft
230 catches for 3,536 yards (15.4 avg.) and 16 touchdowns

Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona) – 3rd overall pick 2004 NFL Draft
426 catches for 5,975 yards (14.0 avg.) and 46 touchdowns

Roy Williams (Detroit) – 7th overall pick 2004 NFL Draft
281 catches for 4,082 yards (14.5 avg.) and 30 touchdowns

Lee Evans (Buffalo) – 13th overall pick 2004 NFL Draft
296 catches for 4,744 yards (16.0 avg.) and 32 touchdowns

Michael Jenkins (Atlanta) – 29th overall pick 2004 NFL Draft
185 catches for 2,372 yards (12.8 avg.) and 17 touchdowns

Andre Johnson (Houston) – 3rd overall pick 2003 NFL Draft
486 catches for 6,379 yards (13.1 avg.) and 33 touchdowns

Santana Moss (N.Y. Jets) – 16th overall pick 2001 NFL Draft
430 catches for 6,541 yards (15.2 avg.) and 43 touchdowns

Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis) – 30th overall pick 2001 NFL Draft
576 catches for 8.129 yards (14.1 avg.) and 53 touchdowns

Plaxicco Burress (Pittsburgh) – 8th overall pick 2000 NFL Draft
505 catches for 7,845 yards (15.5 avg.) and 55 touchdowns

Torry Holt (St. Louis) – 6th overall pick 1999 NFL Draft
869 catches for 12,660 yards (14.6 avg.) and 74 touchdowns

BELOW EXPECTATIONS
Robert Meachem (New Orleans) – 27th overall pick 2007 NFL Draft
12 catches for 289 (24.1 avg.) and three touchdowns

Craig Davis (San Diego) – 30th overall pick 2007 NFL Draft
24 catches for 247 yards (10.3 avg.) and one touchdown

Troy Williamson (Minnesota) – 7th overall pick 2005 NFL Draft
84 catches for 1,097 yards (13.1 avg.) and four touchdowns

Mike Williams (Detroit) – 10th overall pick 2005 NFL Draft
44 catches for 539 yards (12.2 avg.) and two touchdowns

Matt Jones (Jacksonville) – 21st overall pick 2005 NFL Draft
166 catches for 2,153 yards (13.0 avg.) and 15 touchdowns

Reggie Williams (Jacksonville) 9th overall pick 2004 NFL Draft
189 catches for 2,322 yards (12.3 avg.) and 18 touchdowns

Michael Clayton (Tampa Bay) – 15th overall pick 2004 NFL Draft
205 catches for 2,706 yards (13.2 avg.) and nine touchdowns

Rashaun Woods (San Francisco) – 31st overall pick 2004 NFL Draft
7 catches for 160 yards (11.4 avg.) and one touchdown

Charles Rogers (Detroit) – 2nd overall pick 2003 NFL Draft
36 catches for 440 yards (12.2 avg.) and four touchdowns

Bryant Johnson (Arizona) – 17th overall pick 2003 NFL Draft
255 catches for 3,221 yards (12.6 avg.) and 12 touchdowns

Donte' Stallworth (New Orleans) – 13th overall pick 2002 NFL Draft
296 catches for 4,383 yards (14.8 avg.) and 32 touchdowns

Ashley Lelie (Denver) – 19th overall pick 2002 NFL Draft
217 catches for 3,749 yards (17.3 avg.) and 15 touchdowns

Javon Walker (Green Bay) – 20th overall pick 2002 NFL Draft
267 catches for 4,011 yards (15.0 avg.) and 31 touchdowns

David Terrell (Chicago) – 8th overall pick 2001 NFL Draft
128 catches for 1,602 yards and (12.5 avg.) and nine touchdowns

Koren Robinson (Seattle) – 9th overall pick 2001 NFL Draft
294 catches for 4,244 yards (14.4 avg.) and 16 touchdowns

Rod Gardner (Washington) – 15th overall pick 2001 NFL Draft
242 catches for 3,165 yards (13.1 avg.) and 23 touchdowns

Freddie Mitchell (Philadelphia) – 25th overall pick 2001 NFL Draft
90 catches for 1,263 yards (14.0 avg.) and five touchdowns

Peter Warrick (Cincinnati) – 4th overall pick 2000 NFL Draft
275 catches for 2,991 yards (10.9 avg.) and 18 touchdowns

Travis Taylor (Baltimore) – 10th overall pick 2000 NFL Draft
312 catches for 4,017 yards (12.9 avg.) and 22 touchdowns

Sylvester Morris (Kansas City) – 21st overall pick 2000 NFL Draft
48 catches for 678 yards (14.1 avg.) and three touchdowns

R. Jay Soward (Jacksonville) – 29th overall pick 2000 NFL Draft
14 catches for 154 yards (11.0 avg.) and one touchdown

David Boston (San Diego) – 8th overall pick 1999 NFL Draft
315 catches for 4,699 yards (14.9 avg.) and 25 touchdowns

Troy Edwards (Pittsburgh) – 13th overall pick 1999 NFL Draft
203 catches for 2,404 yards (11.8 avg.) and 11 touchdowns

According to Pewter Report's calculations and study, only 17 of the 40 (42.5 percent) wide receivers taken in the first round have performed well. That means 23 haven't, and while some of the players listed in these two categories are subject to debate, there's no denying that a team's chances of hitting on a wide receiver in the first round of the draft are about 50-50 at best.

Even more telling is the fact that many of the more successful wide receivers in the NFL today did not enter the draft as first-round picks, rather they were selected in rounds 2-7, or even undrafted, evidenced by some of the examples listed below.

Chad Johnson (Cincinnati) – second round 2001 NFL Draft
612 catches for 8,905 (14.6 avg.) and 53 touchdowns

Steve Smith (Carolina) – second round 2001 NFL Draft
509 catches for 7,348 yards (14.4 avg.) and 43 touchdowns

Anquan Boldin (Arizona) – second round 2003 NFL Draft
502 catches for 6,496 yards (12.9 avg.) and 40 touchdowns

Antonio Bryant (Dallas) – second round 2002 NFL Draft
333 catches for 5,085 yards (15.3 avg.) and 26 touchdowns

Bernard Berrian (Chicago) – third round 2004 NFL Draft
198 catches for 3,161 yards (16.0 avg.) and 20 touchdowns

Greg Jennings (Green Bay) – second round 2006 NFL Draft
178 catches for 2,844 yards (16.0 avg.) and 24 touchdowns

Marques Colston (New Orleans) – seventh round 2006 NFL Draft
215 catches for 3,000 yards (14.0 avg.) and 24 touchdowns

Lance Moore (Cleveland) – undrafted free agent 2005
112 catches for 1,240 yards (11.1 avg.) and 12 touchdowns

Wes Welker (San Diego) – undrafted free agent 2004
319 catches for 3,461 yards (10.8 avg.) and 12 touchdowns

No wide receivers were taken in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft, and perhaps that's because the risk outweighed the reward. A few of the teams that waited until the second round to select wide receivers last year were not disappointed. That includes Denver (Eddie Royal) and Philadelphia (DeShaun Jackson).

After the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft concludes, there's a good chance talented wide receivers like Kenny Britt (Rutgers) and Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina) could be available if they do not post great 40-yard dash times. The Bucs could also consider drafting Derrick Williams (Penn State) and Mike Wallace (Ole Miss) after the first round.

It's clear the Bucs need to address some needs at the wide receiver position. They need to get younger and add more vertical threats for the offense new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski is implementing in Tampa Bay.

The Bucs could tap into a few different resources to do that, but history and percentages indicate Tampa Bay's safest bet in terms of addressing the wide receiver position is through free agency, a trade or after the first round of the NFL Draft.

Next week we'll take a look at the quarterback position to determine how risky it is to select a signal caller in the first round of the NFL Draft.

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