PewterReport.com has periodically published its’ Top 25 All-Time Greatest Bucs list, updating the rankings due to recent inductions into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Buccaneers Ring of Honor, in addition to the emergence of star players on Tampa Bay’s current roster. The last time we published this list was the summer of 2014. Now, it’s time the PewterReport.com staff re-examined the careers of the most elite Tampa Bay players once again. We’ve re-ranked the list and expanded it to the Top 30 All-Time Greatest Bucs.

In this 10-part series, PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds analyzes each Bucs legend and offers up commentary on some of the best players in Tampa Bay history. Some of the rankings – and omissions – will likely cause some controversy among the Bucs fan base.

Let us know what you think. Bucs fans and PewterReport.com readers are encouraged to leave their opinions in the article comments section, on the Pewter Report message boards and on Pewter Report’s Twitter page, or Pewter Report’s Facebook page.

In Saturday’s installment, PewterReport.com introduces the All-Time Greatest Bucs ranked 4-6. Sunday’s installment will conclude the rankings with the Top 3 All-Time Greatest Bucs.

• All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 28-30
• All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 25-27
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 22-24
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 19-21
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 16-18
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 13-15
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 10-12
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 7-9

6. Buccaneers LB Hardy Nickerson – 1993-99
Previous No. 6: FB Mike Alstott

Before there was John Lynch, Warren Sapp or Derrick Brooks there was Nickerson as the undisputed leader of the Bucs defense. Nickerson brought a winning attitude from Pittsburgh as Tampa Bay’s prized free agent signing in 1993. At age 28, he immediately took over the locker room and began the culture change that was needed to get the Bucs back to respectability. He made an instant impact, recording a franchise-record 214 tackles and his first Pro Bowl in 1993. Nickerson’s single-season tackle record still stands today.

Nickerson played a huge role in developing Lynch, Sapp and Brooks as future leaders in Tampa Bay with his no-nonsense, hard-nosed playing style. Nickerson was a five-time Pro Bowler and a two-time first-team All-Pro during his seven years with the Bucs. He helped the Bucs win an NFC Central title in 1999 and make the playoffs twice during his time in Tampa Bay.

Former Bucs LB Hardy Nickerson

Former Bucs LB Hardy Nickerson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Nickerson would return to Tampa Bay as the color analyst of the Buccaneers Radio Network in 2006. He would return as the team’s linebackers coach under Lovie Smith in 2015-16 to help develop Lavonte David. Given the role that he had mentoring Lynch, Sapp, Brooks – and David – in addition to his stellar play on the field, Nickerson should be the next inductee into the Bucs Ring of Honor.

Reynolds’ Take: “Nickerson was one of my absolute favorite Bucs to cover when I first started on the Bucs beat in 1995. The player called “Hardware” was a hard-hitting, Hulk-posing, tone-setting linebacker that helped turn Tampa Bay around. Nickerson is the fourth all-time leading tackler in Bucs history, and averaged an astounding 132 tackles per year. He also forced 13 fumbles, recovered nine, posted nine sacks and notched seven interceptions as a Buccaneer. Nickerson is a Bucs legend and one of the best leaders in franchise history.”

5. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans – 2014-current
Previous No. 5: LB Hardy Nickerson

The last time we ranked the Top 25 Greatest All-Time Bucs, Evans ranked 15th on the list. But over the last four years his career has seen a meteoric rise as he is still among the league’s Top 5 receivers. Evans has been on a tear, shredding Bucs’ and NFL records over the past few years, while winning a Super Bowl along the way. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Evans is just dominant – outside the numbers or inside playing the slot.

Evans, a three-time Pro Bowler, just concluded his seventh straight 1,000-yard season to start his NFL career. That mark broke Randy Moss’ previous record of six years in a row. Now Evans is in a class all by himself. His 8,266 receiving yards and 532 receptions are the most in team history. Evans also broke his own single-season touchdown record with 13 scores last year. He previously set the record of 12 a rookie in 2014 and tied it in 2016.

Bucs WR Mike Evans

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: USA Today

Not only is Evans a record-setter, he’s one of the toughest, most physical receivers in the NFL. Evans played through serious hamstring, ankle and knee injuries last year to set records, but more importantly to help the Bucs win Super Bowl LV. Through the years Evans has proven to be one of the most selfless players in Tampa Bay, not caring about stats more than wins, and also helping the team’s salary cap several times by restructuring his contract.

Reynolds’ Take: “Evans is on his way to being considering the best offensive weapon in Tampa Bay history – if he isn’t already. He needs just 1,184 more receiving yards to surpass James Wilder (9,449) with the most offensive yards in team history. That could come in 2021. And with 61 touchdowns, Evans is 11 TDs away from breaking Mike Alstott’s career touchdown regular-season record in Tampa Bay. With 16 more TDs in his career, Evans will break Alstott’s all-time mark of 78 career touchdowns, including the postseason.

The 28-year old Evans is still in his prime, so it appears it’s just a matter of time before he overtakes Wilder and Alstott atop Tampa Bay charts. And Evans might just become a two-time Super Bowl champion in the process.”

4. Buccaneers CB Ronde Barber – 1997-2012
Previous No. 4: CB Ronde Barber

No other Bucs defensive back has accomplished what Barber has, and few DBs have had the impact that Barber has in the NFL. He became the first and only member of the 45-25 club in NFL history, recording 47 interceptions and 28 sacks in his illustrious 16-year Bucs career. No other player has played as long in Tampa Bay as Barber did. And he proved to be the prototype slot nickel cornerback position in the NFL, beginning in the late 1990s.

Barber’s 47 career interceptions are a franchise record, as are his 10 interceptions during the 2001 season, which is a single-season record. Barber also set the franchise mark for the most career starts in Tampa Bay history with 232. That bested Derrick Brooks’ mark of 221, which was set in 2008. Barber is also the second-leading tackler in Bucs history with 1,428 stops – right behind Brooks (2,198). The team’s third-round pick in 1997 played until he was 37 years old, when he switched to safety for his final season in 2012. Barber was named to five Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro three times. He was also named to the 2000s All-NFL team.

Legendary Bucs CB Ronde Barber

Legendary Bucs CB Ronde Barber: Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

More importantly, this legendary Buccaneer has the signature play in Tampa Bay history – Barber’s 92-yard pick-six at Philadelphia to send the Bucs to Super Bowl XXXVII. Barber was inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor two years ago and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Barber works as the color analyst for the Bucs Radio Network during the preseason and covers the NFL as a color analyst for Fox.

Reynolds’ Take: “Barber is my absolute favorite Buccaneer that I’ve ever covered. A consummate professional on and off the field, his football intellect matched his athleticism. No Tampa Bay defender made as many big plays as Barber did with 197 pass breakups, 47 interceptions, 28 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, 14 touchdowns and 12 fumble recoveries.

No Buccaneer was tougher than Barber, either. He didn’t miss a start in his last 13 seasons – THIRTEEN! Some of Barber’s records will stand for decades, which makes him a legend and someone worthy of Hall of Fame induction.”

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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deeznuts
deeznuts (@deeznuts)
4 months ago

Ranking Evans ahead of Lavonte is blasphemous. Evans is talented, and has good production. But he’s susceptible to mistakes and drops. What did evans do in the Superbowl versus What did lavonte David do in the super bowl?

drdneast
drdneast (@drdneast)
Reply to  deeznuts
4 months ago

He drew at least three PI penalties in the SB which in my book are just as valuable as receptions. The one at the end of the half really moved the chains and put the Bucs in position to score the first half ending TD. What else you got to complain about?

deeznuts
deeznuts (@deeznuts)
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

We almost didn’t make it to the SB bc of his performance against GB.

bucballer
bucballer (@bucballer)
Reply to  deeznuts
4 months ago

“susceptible to mistakes?” Mike Evans is the greatest WR in Buccaneer history! Fact! Blasphemous is a bit strong when David is probably in the top ten Buccaneer LBs of all time and Evans is the greatest WR in Buccaneer history.

deeznuts
deeznuts (@deeznuts)
Reply to  bucballer
4 months ago

Easy to say that when you’re ranked against derrick brooks and hardy nickerson. Lavonte also plays two linebacker spots. Mike Evans plays in the defenseless recover era. Of course hes going to have more yards than his predecessors. It’s not a fair comparison. The next best wr in Tampa history is…..Mark Carrier

Wadeless
Wadeless (@wadeless)
4 months ago

Ronde is my favorite Buc of all time. Loved watching him play. Winfield reminds me of him. Always around to ball.

scubog
scubog (@scubog)
Reply to  Wadeless
4 months ago

I too see the similarities. Difference is Winfield is better than Ronde was his rookie year.

bucballer
bucballer (@bucballer)
4 months ago

That leaves Selmon, Sapp, and Lynch! 1, 2, and 3.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly (@captain-sly)
Reply to  bucballer
4 months ago

Actually Lynch is at #8 already.
Here’s my Top 10:
#1 Derrick Brooks – #2 Warren Sapp – #3 Leroy Selmon – #4 John Lynch – #5 Ronde Barber – #6 Simeon Rice – #7 Mike Evans – #8 Hardy Nickerson (slightly) over #9 Lavonte David – #10 James Wilder (by a mile) ahead of Mike Alstott who I would put behind #11 Gerald McCoy
I added that last part for Dr. D

Last edited 4 months ago by Captain Sly
bucballer
bucballer (@bucballer)
Reply to  Captain Sly
4 months ago

Thanks! Didn’t realize that.

bucballer
bucballer (@bucballer)
Reply to  Captain Sly
4 months ago

That looks good Captain! It’s so subjective anyway, right? Brooks, Sapp, Selmon at top though fo sure. If Brady and the Bucs repeat this year then u might have to put Brady up there as well!

drdneast
drdneast (@drdneast)
4 months ago

Nickerson showed how a player can set the tone and lead a defense. Gerald McCoy, not so much.
It’s rare that a player gets to have a siignature play to put himself in the HOF and to define a team but Barber has that distinction with his Eagles INT. Not only that, he practically owned Donovan McNabb.

bucballer
bucballer (@bucballer)
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

Nickerson was an absolute beast!

Dy-nasty D
Dy-nasty D (@dy-nasty-d)
4 months ago

I love Ronde. He was such a cerebral player and lived and breathed Buc football.

BeeDubs26
BeeDubs26 (@beedubs26)
4 months ago

Selmon, Brooks, Sapp in my book.

76bucsfan46
76bucsfan46 (@76bucsfan46)
4 months ago

When I think of Bucs Legends true impact players come to mind. Sapp, Alstott, Lynch, Brooks and Rice. Men who in big games made plays to swing the momentum. When I’m dead and gone I will still dream of Sundays watching these men turn a loosing franchise into greatness.