It seems like every week in the NFL there are stories about players going against their former teams or coaches facing their former teams. But, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the game presents more of a behind-the-scenes grudge match.
Bruce Allen is Washington’s general manager. He held that job in Tampa Bay from 2004 until he (and coach Jon Gruden) got fired after the 2008 season. That made me wonder a bit about how much Allen’s drafting has contributed to Tampa Bay’s surprising turnaround.
The answer is easy: Not much at all. Go take a look at Tampa Bay’s roster and I’m talking only the current active roster. There are nine guys Allen drafted and you can’t exactly call them the core of Tampa Bay’s resurgence.
Allen did draft safety Tanard Jackson, who is suspended until at least next September for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He also drafted cornerback Aqib Talib and Davin Joseph, who currently are on injured reserve.
That leaves Allen’s draft haul as center Jeremy Zuttah, backup quarterback Josh Johnson, linebackers Quincy Black, Geno Hayes and Adam Hayward, tackle Jeremy Trueblood, receiver Maurice Stovall, running back Cadillac Williams and linebacker Barrett Ruud.
That’s a less-than-stellar cast. We’ll give Allen credit for drafting the starting linebacker corps, even though Ruud is probably on his way out of Tampa Bay. Trueblood was average for a few years, but he’s now playing behind James Lee. Zuttah’s a decent guy to have swinging between center and guard, but he’s nothing special. Williams had a nice rookie year and has made a couple of inspirational comebacks from major knee injuries, but he could be on the way out as the Bucs look for a younger pair of legs to go with LeGarrette Blount next year. It’s a minor miracle Stovall’s still on the roster and the Bucs would be in deep trouble if they ever had to start Johnson at quarterback.
Joseph’s a free agent next year and there’s no guarantee Jackson will be back. Talib’s a great natural talent, but he’s come with trouble.
Oh, and let’s talk about some of Allen’s other greatest hits. We’re going to leave tragic figures Gaines Adams and Arron Sears alone. But how about receiver Michael Clayton? The Bucs could have had St. Louis running back Steven Jackson or Atlanta receiver Michael Jenkins (a Tampa kid) or New Orleans defensive end Will Smith with that pick.
And who can remember Chris Colmer? Yeah, he’s the offensive tackle Allen drafted in the third round, despite a history of shoulder problems. The injury resurfaced as soon as Colmer joined the Bucs and he never played a down in the NFL.
At least with Clayton the Bucs got one productive season. But Allen’s history with other receivers was even worse. There was fifth-round choice Larry Brackens out of that football factory that sometimes is called Pearl River Community college and, then there was Allen’s all-time worst draft pick.
Yep, Allen saved it for his last draft. He and Gruden used a second-round pick on Dexter Jackson and walked into the media room a bit later and claimed he was going to be the second coming of Carolina’s Steve Smith. Turns out the only thing Jackson and Smith had in common was they were both short and since Jackson had gone to school at Appalachian State, he had spent some time in North Carolina.
But, hey, maybe Allen’s drafts did the current Bucs a favor, after all. If Allen hadn’t botched things at wide receiver the way he did, Mark Dominik never would have had to draft Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn and Sammie Stroughter.