For this weekend’s Pewter Report Roundtable, the crew tackles another tough question. This week’s prompt: who is each staff member’s favorite first-round pick in Bucs history?

Scott Reynolds: Sapp Is My Favorite For A Multitude Of Reasons

The Bucs franchise, which came into the league in 1976, is entering its 46th year of existence. I’m entering my 27th year of covering the Bucs, so I’ve seen more than half of the team’s first-round picks during that span. While there have been some real clunkers over nearly five decades, there have been some absolute hits. Hall of Famers Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks come to mind immediately for me. As do future Hall of Famers Mike Evans and Tristan Wirfs. But my favorite first-round pick by Tampa Bay has to be Sapp. Covering the mercurial Pro Bowl defensive tackle from 1995, which was first year on the Bucs beat, to his departure after the 2003 season was wild.

Scott Reynolds, Warren Sapp and Mark Cook

Scott Reynolds, Bucs legend Warren Sapp and Mark Cook

Sapp could go from funny and charming to surly and mean in an instant during a single interview. He was a bad ass who ruled the locker room with an iron fist. Yet Sapp was beloved by two completely different type of coaches in Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden. Both appreciated Sapp’s hard-working, no-nonsense approach and his demand for greatness – just as much as his elite talent as a defensive tackle. He held others accountable. Along with Hardy Nickerson, Sapp literally willed this franchise to become a winner. Under Sapp – with the help of others like Nickerson, Brooks, Ronde Barber, John Lynch and Mike Alstott – he transformed the team from the Yuccaneers to the Buccaneers.

Sapp and I butted heads a few times over what I wrote about him in Buccaneer Magazine/Pewter Report. He tried to intimidate me a few times, which is his nature. But I held my ground and earned his respect. There was mutual respect between us as a result. We’re still friends to this day and will catch up and talk about the glory days, which is fun. Sapp even helps me with scouting reports on D-line draft prospects each year. His personality was larger than life – just like his on-field play was. Sapp is no angel. But as I’ve told people before, you can leave him Monday through Saturday, but you’ll take him every Sunday. Sapp was an absolutely transformative player for the franchise and a dominant defensive tackle with 77 career sacks. That’s second all-time behind Selmon (78.5) in franchise history.

Matt Matera: Mike Evans Is The Greatest Offensive Player, And Even Better Off Of The Field

What can I say about Mike Evans that hasn’t already been said? He’s the greatest offensive player in franchise history. Evans was drafted seventh overall in 2014 and has been nothing short of a slam dunk. The Bucs didn’t have a lot of winning seasons until two years ago, but individually Evans has played a Hall Of Fame career.

Along with being a Super Bowl champion, Evans holds the NFL record of most consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to start a career with eight. He also holds multiple franchise records including most career receiving yards (9,301), most receiving yards in a playoff game (119) and most touchdowns with 76. On top of that, Evans has always proven to be a team first guy. He learned under the tutelage of the late Vincent Jackson and has been a fantastic mentor to younger receivers on the roster, including Chris Godwin. Evans constantly restructures his contract so the Bucs can open up more cap space to sign other free agents. In all honesty, though, when I think of Mike Evans, I don’t even think of the player on the field. I think of the person he is off of it. You won’t find another one like Evans.

Along with his wife Ashli, the couple started the Evans Family Foundation, which focuses on empowering the youth, taking a stand against domestic violence and awarding scholarships to students.There are countless stories of Evans donating money out of the kindness of his heart. Evans gave money to a teammate that wasn’t going to make the roster after a fire occurred by his residence. He donated $11,000 to a family whose father was killed and was just awarded $4 in a lawsuit. One fan even recalled Evans buying Fresh Kitchen for them and everyone in the store after taking a picture together. Evans goes out of his way to help others without ever looking for any kind of attention or publicity. For as great of a player he is, he’s an even better person off of it. Simply put, we should all strive to be the person that Mike Evans is.

Jon Ledyard: Mike Evans Transformed Bucs Offense, Franchise

The Bucs have drafted a ton of great defensive players in franchise history, but offensive talent has been a lot harder to come by. Back in 2003, Tampa Bay won their first Super Bowl on the strength of those defensive picks. In that era, great offenses weren’t as common as they are now. That’s why Mike Evans was such an important pick when the team made it in 2014. The best offensive player in franchise history was selected right on the cusp of offensive explosion in the NFL.

Bucs WR Mike Evans

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Evans has been constantly great for the Bucs. Eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to begin his career is a jaw-dropping accomplishment. That’s never been done before by any player in league history. And no wide receiver has put more points on the board since 2014 either, with Evans scoring 75 touchdowns since being drafted. Davante Adams is the only other receiver to even hit 70! Outside of the quarterback position, Evans has been the most positive transformative force in the Bucs becoming a great offensive team over the past several years.

There is basically nothing to be disappointed about in Mike Evans’ first round selection. He is constantly available, consistently beats top competition, provides big-play and scoring value in every game and is a leader on and off the field. In many ways, Evans has led the transformation of the Bucs franchise from a league laughingstock full of questionable characters, into one of the toughest, most high character organizations in the NFL. Not only is Evans clearly the best offensive player in franchise history by a country mile, but he has also been a franchise-altering player. Very few non-quarterbacks drafted in the past ten years have had that kind of all-around impact.

J.C. Allen: Tristan Wirfs, Great Player, Better Person

The offensive line never gets enough love. Well, I’m going to pour it on here. I’ve been in Tampa Bay now for three years and my favorite first rounder in that time frame is right tackle Tristan Wirfs. Now I could go back into the annals of history and name players like Warren Sapp or Derrick Brooks. Or even recent draft picks like Mike Evans or Vita Vea. But since I’ve been watching closely and covering the team, there’s no one I’ve enjoyed watching or covering more than Wirfs.

Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs and RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn

Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs and RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

As a player there’s no denying Wirfs’ talent. Coming out of the NFL Scouting Combine, he put on a clinic. His athleticism was off the charts, and it has translated onto the field. Wirfs’ rookie season was dominant, allowing just one sack all season. All while facing a murderers’ row of pass rushers. Robbed of Pro Bowl and All-Pro considerations, Wirfs made the league recognize him his sophomore season. Wirfs was named to the first-team All-Pro roster and was rightfully elected as a starter for the Pro Bowl. He allowed two sacks and posted an 84.6 overall grade from PFF.

Where Wirfs really shines is as a person. He’s easily one of the most likable players on the roster. He’s unintentionally funny and unapologetically nice. You can tell by talking to him how much he loves the game of football. He gives great detailed answers to questions and has been a absolute joy to cover. While there are obviously more decorated players in the franchises history, I expect Wirfs to reach that level with his supreme play and I’m thrilled to be along for the ride.

Josh Queipo: Bucs LB Derrick Brooks Re-Defined A Position

Bucs LB Derrick Brooks

Bucs Hall of Fame LB Derrick Brooks – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Who’s your favorite player? Mr. Derrick Brooks.” If you followed the NFL in the early aughts, you should remember this iconic line. It was being sung by a group of children in a school bus for an NFL commercial. Brooks is my favorite player and easily my favorite Bucs first round pick of all time. Along with Warren Sapp, who was taken earlier in that very same draft, Brooks helped create the backbone for Tony Dungy’s “Tampa Two” system that would help vault the Bucs into NFL relevancy.

Some of the premier linebackers over the past ten years such as Luke Kuechly, Lavonte David, Fred Warner and Bobby Wagner can all trace their playing styles as elite coverage linebackers to the role that Brooks pioneered. He was an 11-time Pro Bowler and 5-time first-team All-Pro. He capped off those accolades as the 2002 Defensive Player of the Year. Brooks was thoughtful, smart and candid, both on the field and off.

What sets him apart for me is how Brooks represented himself off the field, as well as on it. Brooks has been a pillar of the Tampa Bay community since the day he was drafted. He is the epitome of a first-class person who has invested countless hours in helping others. Combined with his position-defining play, Brooks easily stands as my favorite first round pick in team history.

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inspecto
inspecto
2 months ago

A lot of ya are too young to remember Lee Roy, he was a beast and all wee had to hang our hearts on until and it all came together in 79 when we got Doug. Just 6 points too short !

scubog
scubog
Reply to  inspecto
2 months ago

We drafted Doug Williams in 1978. The Rams loss was 9-0. Sadly, Jimmie Giles scored a TD that would have made the score 6-7, but OG Greg Roberts moved to soon……flag.

bucballer
bucballer
Reply to  inspecto
2 months ago

And Lee Roy was a better human being than a football player! A great football player and person. Hurt his back, I believe, up until then he was total animal out there. Didn’t he hurt it at the ProBowl maybe?

scubog
scubog
Reply to  bucballer
2 months ago

Yes, Lee Roy hurt his back at the Pro Bowl. I happened to be doing some work for Lee Roy at his house that summer leading up to Training Camp. It was then that he told me about the back injury that hadn’t yet become public knowledge. He didn’t want to have surgery because he once had a bad experience with the anesthesia. What a great guy! Still have my “Thank You Mr. & Mrs Selmon” bumper sticker.

BucWonder
BucWonder
Reply to  inspecto
2 months ago

So glad that Lee Roy was remembered here. Our first ever draft pick will always be the best ever draft pick for me. He was the lone bright spot in our very dark beginning, and a true gentleman. I think Lee Roy would have loved Mike Evans.

Frank
Frank
2 months ago

As Hugh Culverhouse used to say…. “ Le Roy Selman”.. a true gentleman and a beast on the field

fredster
fredster
2 months ago

Sapp Daddy all the way! Was he the best human being? No. Sundays though I sure was glad that asshole was a Buc. Lol.

Dman
Dman
2 months ago

Sapp.
Lots of great Bucs to choose from.

Spitfire
Spitfire
2 months ago

Selmon, Sapp, Brooks, Evans are our greatest and Wirfs will 100% be on that list. Pretty sure the Brooks Commercial was for the Boys and Girls Club, it’s my favorite commercial ever. Brooks came and talked to my 6th Grade Jr Honors Society ceremony in like his 1st or 2nd Season and he made such an impact that from That day forward he was both My Dad and I’d favorite player. Brooks was part of the plan to transformation away from the Yuckaneers. Both Brooks and Sapp came from FSU and UM in their heyday and did not get Drafted… Read more »

Dy-nasty D
Dy-nasty D
2 months ago

As great as Mike Evans is, he’s not the best #1 pick as Aaron Donald was on the board.

majc32
majc32
Reply to  Dy-nasty D
2 months ago

This has to be the dumbest comment i have ever seen. So you are mad the bucs picked a future hall of famer before aaron donald? Plus this article is about 1st round buccaneer picks. Donald was not picked by tampa. Some buc fans are truly slow.

Dy-nasty D
Dy-nasty D
Reply to  majc32
2 months ago

I’m not mad at all, but you sure are. Sapp, Brooks, Selmon were all the best guys on the board, so they were the perfect picks.
Sure, Evans is great, but Donald is possibly the greatest defensive player ever. It’s like picking Olajuwon when Jordon was still on the board.

majc32
majc32
Reply to  Dy-nasty D
2 months ago

Stop it. The bucs already had mccoy but had ZERO wide receivers but an old vjax. How many bowls do the rams have? How many do the bucs? And you dont know if jordan would have had the same success in houston as he did in chicago. Last i checked olajuwon was an all time great as well. Again being mad the bucs picked a hall of famer who is setting nfl records is just stupid.

Dy-nasty D
Dy-nasty D
Reply to  majc32
2 months ago

Not mad at all. Evans was a great pick, and I’m a huge fan. I just think Sapp and Brooks were better picks, taking into account the draft board.
Your reading comprehension is severely lacking.

bigbuc
bigbuc
2 months ago

Great players all. Who’s my favorite player?
MISTER DERRICK BROOKS!!
As dominant as Sapp, but a role model to all. It was a joy to cheer him on and an honor to meet him at training camp.

seat26
seat26
2 months ago

My favorite is Lee Roy Selmon. But I was 19 when they drafted him and to see him in the NFC Championship game in Tampa in 1979 was a huge thrill for me.

BucWonder
BucWonder
Reply to  seat26
2 months ago

I’m that same age.1979 was such a thrill after our 0-26 start. Right there with the SB wins for me.

scubog
scubog
2 months ago

How about Irving Fryer, Dan Hampton, Earl Campbell, Bo Jackson who were all chosen with a Buccaneers’ pick but never suited up for us? Maybe a piece on the worst first round pick is in order. Now there’s a long list to debate.

James Taylor
James Taylor
2 months ago

Obviously the favorite player will be among the players you have watched since joining the staff. Since he retired in 1984, your staff didn’t follow Lee Roy Selmon. But he was a tremendous player and a pillar of the community. Selmon got an expansion team that lost their first 26 games to the NFC Championship game in just their fourth season. In terms of being a two-gap defensive end, Selmon is the best in the history of the game according to experts like Bill Belichick and Joe Greene. Sapp was a great player but he was a three technique on a… Read more »

JayBuc52
JayBuc52
Reply to  James Taylor
2 months ago

Totally agree. He almost single handedly turned the laughing stock, and nightly joke on Johnny Carson, into a team that dominated offenses. He was unstoppable on the field. Also, for those of us who remember him, he was a giant off the field. He brought the USF Football team into existence. He had countless achievements in the community and he constantly gave back. He was a total beast on a team of nobodies.

bucballer
bucballer
Reply to  James Taylor
2 months ago

Got to include RB James Wilder on the list. He was gaining yards when everyone knew he was getting the ball! Took multiple people to bring him down. I believe he set an NFL record for most carries in a season. A real workhorse.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  bucballer
2 months ago

Wilder was a 2nd round pick.

bucballer
bucballer
Reply to  scubog
2 months ago

My bad. He played like a first rounder!

cobraboy
cobraboy
2 months ago

No Lee Roy Selmon?
As excellent off the field as on the field.
Best Buc ever.

Iowabucfan
Iowabucfan
2 months ago

Mine is Brooks. The Bucs traded back into the first round to draft him. The trade partner was Dallas. Jerry Jones was asked why he traded his first round pick. He said because there were no hall-of-fame players available.