Sorry folks, but between the PewterReport.com crew already breaking down nearly every aspect of the team and the lack of any news, you get another list. And actually two, as this is a two-part series where I will give you my all-time Bucs defensive starting lineup in this week’s edition of The Hook, after listing the best offensive players last week.
I didn’t use any set criteria when compiling my all-time lineup list, just the players I thought were the best over the team’s history. I am sure this will generate plenty of controversy and discussion, so make sure to leave your all-time list in the comments section below.
With a number of players who played crossover or hybrid roles, I decided to go with the more traditional 4-3 scheme when selecting this list.
So without further adieu, here’s my list of the all-time best Bucs defensive fantasy roster.
DE – Lee Roy Selmon
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Former Bucs DE Lee Roy Selmon – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
An argument could be made that Selmon was the greatest player the franchise has ever seen. As the team’s very first draft pick in 1976, Selmon earned the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 1979, helping the Bucs go from an 0-26 start to an NFC Central championship and appearance in the NFC title game that season. Selmon became the Bucs’ first Hall of Famer in 1995, and is also a Bucs Ring of Honor member. They don’t name freeways after mediocre players.
Honorable Mentions: Shaq Barrett, Chidi Ahanotu
NT – Dave Logan
Logan was a bit undersized, but made up for it with heart and determination. Logan was a key cog in the dominant Bucs defenses of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and is still the team’s fifth all-time leading sacker with 39 quarterback takedowns. The nose tackle played on three Bucs playoff teams and was a 2-time second-team All-Pro.
Honorable Mentions: Brad Culpepper, Vita Vea
DT – Warren Sapp
My favorite Buc of all time. Sapp was everything you wanted in a football player. Nasty, edgy, tenacious and relentless, no one worked harder in practice or played with more effort on Sundays than Sapp. A seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro, his 77 career sacks puts him behind only Lee Roy Selmon (78.5) in team history. The former Hurricanes standout was the 1999 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, an NFL Hall of Famer and a Bucs Ring of Honor inductee.
Honorable Mentions: Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh
DE – Simeon Rice
Former Bucs DE Simeon Rice – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Rice dominated in his era, but would dominate in today’s NFL as well with his freakish overall athletic ability. Rice finished his Bucs career with 69.5 sacks, ranking him third in franchise history behind just Selmon and Sapp. Rice had a five-year run of double-digit sacks, which is still a Bucs record.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Bennett, Jason Pierre-Paul
LB – Lavonte David
Many questioned David’s ability to be successful in the NFL due to his smallish size and that caused him to slip to the second round. But if the 2012 NFL Draft were to be re-done today, David wouldn’t make it out of the Top 10. David has collected 1,125 career tackles and trails only Ronde Barber (1,428) and Derrick Brooks (2,198) on the team’s all-time list.
Honorable Mentions: Shelton Quarles. Hugh Green
LB – Hardy Nickerson
Who knows if the Bucs win their first Super Bowl in 2002 without Nickerson joining the team in 1993. While Nickerson wasn’t even with the Buccaneers by the time they won that Super Bowl, his influence was still being felt by players he helped mentor. Brooks, Sapp, Lynch and Barber all saw first-hand the dedication and commitment Nickerson brought day in and day out. Nickerson was a three-time Pro Bowler and still holds the team record for most tackles in a season with 214.
Honorable Mentions: David Lewis, Richard Batman Wood
LB – Derrick Brooks
Former Bucs LBs Hardy Nickerson and Derrick Brooks – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Not only is Brooks one of the Top 3 players to ever suit up for the Buccaneers, he is one of the best to ever put on an NFL uniform. It’s crazy to think some NFL executives thought Brooks would be better served playing safety in the NFL than linebacker. Brooks collected 11 Pro Bowls, five first-team All-Pros and was named the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He finished his 14-year career as the team’s all-time leading tackler (2,198) and second in all-time starts (221). Brooks was inducted into the Hall of Fame and the Bucs Ring of Honor.
If you look up the word ironman in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Barber next to it. Possibly the most cerebral player in franchise history, Barber revolutionized the nickel corner position. He is also the only NFL player with at least 45 interceptions and 25 sacks. Barber is the franchise record holder for most interceptions (47) and starts (232) for the Buccaneers. One of these days the Hall of Fame voters will wake up and give Barber the distinction he deserves with a place in Canton.
Honorable Mentions: Rickey Reynolds, Mike Washington
CB – Aqib Talib
Former Bucs CB Aqib Talib – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
This selection might rise a few eyebrows, but had Talib not been such a knucklehead in Tampa Bay and finished out his career here, who know where he would have ended up ranking in the team’s record books. From an athletic standpoint, he may be the most talented corner the team has ever had. That was further cemented by his career achievements after being traded to the Patriots in 2012. Talib was a five-time Pro Bowler and one time All-Pro who played 12 years in the NFL, nabbing 35 interceptions and putting up 10 defensive scores.
Honorable Mentions: Donnie Abraham, Brian Kelly
S – John Lynch
There is no way Lynch could play in today’s NFL, and not because he wasn’t talented enough. Rather, his enforcer, huge-hit style of play would have him suspended every week. Lynch was a five-time Pro Bowler with the Bucs and a two-time first-team All-Pro. The stud safety went on to to have a successful career with the Broncos, where he is a member of their Ring of Honor as well as having his name adorn Raymond James Stadium.
Honorable Mentions: Dexter Jackson, Tanard Jackson
S – Cedric Brown
Former Bucs FS Cedric Brown – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
Brown was the first real defensive back star in franchise history, teaming up with Mark Cotney to give Tampa Bay one of the most feared safety units in the game. Brown led the Bucs in interceptions with a career-high nine in 1981, while playing on three different Bucs playoff teams. Brown notched 29 interceptions, still third best in in Tampa Bay franchise history.
Honorable Mentions: Mark Cotney, Dwight Smith
• What a terrific guest on the Pewter Report podcast this week as second year sensation offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs joined Scott Reynolds and myself on Wednesday. Wirfs was open and honest and a really fun guest who provided a ton of insight on his rookie season, goals for the future and even shared his thoughts on some of his former Iowa teammates who will be draft prospects next spring.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
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