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 roster for offense in this week’s edition of The Hook, and next week I will tackle the defense.
And a special shoutout to Rusty Ryan on Twitter for this suggested list!
I didn’t use any set criteria when compiling my all-time lineup list, just the players who 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.
So without further adieu, here’s my list of the all-time best Bucs fantasy roster.
QB – Tom Brady
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Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
What can you say? Is there a better candidate or easier decision? What Brady did at age 43 will be looked back on one day as almost too unbelievable to have really happened. A new city, new teammates, new coaches and no offseason, and all he did was set franchise records for most TD passes and total scores and lead the Bucs to their second Super Bowl title. Did I mention he was 43?
Honorable Mentions: Brad Johnson, Doug Williams
RB – James Wilder
Wilder is one of my Top 5 favorite Bucs players. For much of his career he was the only bright spot wearing the creamsicles on Sunday afternoons. He was the Bucs offense for a number of years, as evidenced by the fact he is still the franchise’s leading rusher 30-plus years after he last suited up for the team. Imagine Wilder playing behind this offensive line and the production he would have. Dominant as a runner and one of the best pass-catching backs during his career with the Bucs, Wilder stands atop this position.
Honorable Mentions:Doug Martin, Warrick Dunn
FB – Mike Alstott
While Alstott wasn’t necessarily a true fullback, or the best lead blocker the team has ever had, he did serve in that role at times during his career. In fact, Alstott made the Pro Bowl as a fullback six times for the Buccaneers. Besides his runs that made everyone in the stadium stand up, Alstott was a gifted receiver out of the backfield as well. The A-Train will always hold a special place in the hearts of most Bucs fans, even if former Tampa Bay Times writer Tom Bassinger thought he was overrated (insert rolling eyes emoji here).
Honorable Mentions: Lorenzo Neal, Jameel Cook
Former Bucs FB Mike Alstott – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
WR – Mike Evans
Anyone who doesn’t put Evans as the best Bucs receiver of all time should have their fan card revoked. The future Hall of Famer set an NFL record in 2020 for the most consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons to start a career. Blessed with size, athleticism and underrated speed, Evans holds the franchise record for receptions, yards and touchdowns and still has a number of years left to increase that margin.
Honorable Mentions: Vincent Jackson, Kevin House
WR – Mark Carrier
Former Bucs WR Mark Carrier – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
Carrier was a special receiver and one of the few bright spots in the late 80’s and early 90’s for a team that was mired in ineptitude. His 5,018 yards is second best in franchise history and he also hauled in 27 touchdowns over his Tampa Bay career while averaging 15.6 yards per catch. That’s actually a greater average than Evans (15.5). A third-round pick out of Nicholls State, Carrier made the Pro Bowl in 1989 after a monster 86-catch, 1,422-yard season.
Honorable Mentions: Joey Galloway, Keyshawn Johnson
TE – Jimmie Giles
There is a reason Giles’ name adorns the walls of Raymond James Stadium as a Ring of Honor member. He was good. Really good. Only four Buccaneers have more receiving yards than Giles’ 4,300 and he did it in an era when tight ends weren’t particularly heavily featured in NFL offenses. A favorite target of former QB Doug Williams, Giles still holds the record for most touchdown receptions (four) in a single game.
Honorable Mentions: Cameron Brate, Rob Gronkowski
LT – Paul Gruber
Gruber was the quintessential professional. A guy who showed up every day, worked hard at his craft and anchored a Bucs offensive line for 12 seasons. He even made All-Pro twice, in 1991 and 1992. You rarely heard the first-round pick’s name called in a game, and as an offensive lineman, that is alway a good thing.
Had Gruber played for a bigger market team like the Bears or Giants, his name would likely come up in Hall of Fame conversations. That’s how dominant Gruber was for most of his Tampa Bay career. Like a handful of other Bucs players of his era, his notoriety was hidden behind a mostly terrible football team.
Honorable Mentions: Donald Penn, Roman Oben
LG – Ali Marpet
Bucs LG Ali Marpet – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Buccaneers had never had an offensive line as good as the one we saw in 2020. An argument could be made that all five starters from last season could be the five on this list. You don’t win Super Bowls with substandard lines or really even average ones.
Marpet’s importance was felt last season when he missed three games and the team struggled without him. Marpet should have already garnered a Pro Bowl or two, but could finally get that nod this season if he continues to play at the same level he has since being moved from right guard and center, to his current spot next to Donovan Smith on the left side.
Mayberry might be the second best lineman the team has ever had behind Paul Gruber. 10 seasons in Tampa Bay, nine as a starter and three Pro Bowls tells you all you need to know about the smart and underrated center who was a fourth round draft pick in 1990. His 145 starts rank fourth in Tampa Bay history.
Honorable Mentions: Ryan Jensen, Steve Wilson
RG – Davin Joseph
Some, like Scott Reynolds, believes Joseph was even better than Marpet as the best guard in team history. Joseph became an instant starter during his rookie season and was a constant in the Bucs lineup until injuries took their toll late in his career. Joseph was immediately considered one of the NFL’s most dominant run blockers when he was healthy. Also like Marpet, Joseph earned the distinction of being a team captain over multiple years and made the Pro Bowl in 2011.
Honorable Mentions: Ian Beckles, Sean Farrell
RT – Tristan Wirfs
Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Call me crazy – and plenty of you do anyway – but in one season Wirfs put his name at the top of this list. One sack in the regular season as a rookie with no offseason reps or a preseason? Remarkable and probably not talked about nationally enough to be honest.
An easy-going person by nature, but a violent tactician on the field, Wirfs exceeded everyone’s expectations in 2020. He faced and stopped some of the best pass rushers in the NFL right out of the gate. A case could be made for Demar Dotson based on longevity, but Wirfs’ 2020 season was the best by a Bucs rookie lineman at any position in team history.
Honorable Mentions: Demar Dotson, Charley Hannah
So what do you think, Bucs fan? I will have the second part of this series next week where I give you my all-time defensive lineup.
• Backup Ryan Griffin joined myself and Jon Ledyard on Wednesday’s Pewter Report podcast and shared some great stories of the 2020 Super Bowl season including the difference Tom Brady made for the team, when things started to click for Tampa Bay’s offense and what it took to finally be on a playoff team. Check out Griffin’s appearance below.
• Griffin was also one my first guests on my mediocre web show, called What’s Cooking. Griffin and I chatted about it briefly on the podcast, and for those who didn’t see it, and by the looks of the view count that’s most of you, below is the episode.
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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