|The 1977 Buccaneer draft review|
By going winless in their expansion season, the Bucs wound up with the first overall selection for the second straight year. Additional 6th and 9th round picks were gained from the Raiders for S Cedric Brown. The additional 10th round pick came from trading a guard named John Miller to the San Francisco 49ers in January 1977.
1 - RB - Ricky Bell - USC - Average pick
The Bucs declined to select Tony Dorsett (who wound up with the Cowboys) and stuck with Ricky Bell who had played for John McKay at USC. Bell played five seasons with the Bucs and had a 1,000-yard season in 1979 as the team progressed to the NFC Championship Game, but never lived up to the No.1 overall billing. After an abortive attempt to continue his career with the Chargers, he retired and subsequently died of heart-related illness in 1984.
2 - LB - David Lewis - USC - Great pick
One of the mainstays of the 1979 NFL-best defense and a great linebacker. Started for most of his five seasons in Tampa and went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate in 1980.
3 - DE - Charley Hannah - Alabama - Great pick
Converted to the offensive line early in his NFL career and started for four seasons on the Bucs' offensive line. Was traded to the Raiders and won a SuperBowl ring with them in 1983.
4 - traded to Cincinnati for RB Charlie Davis - OK trade
Played in eight games in the expansion season of 1976 and averaged little over 2.5 yards per carry. Was cut in camp the following season. With this pick, the Bengals selected TE Rick Walker who played nine years in the NFL with the Bengals and Redskins and won a Super Bowl ring with the latter in January 1983.
5 - traded to Miami for LB Ray Nettles - Wasted trade
Never played a down for the Bucs. With this pick, the Dolphins selected K Mike Michel who kicked and punted briefly in Miami and then had little success the following year in Philadelphia.
6 - traded to Chicago for QB Gary Huff - Good trade
Started six games and played in another eight in 1977 and 1978 for the Bucs, the starts all coming after Doug Williams was injured. Never a great QB but an experienced back-up for a new NFL franchise. The trade was actually the Bucs' sixth round pick and the additional sixth round pick gained from the Raiders. The Bears selected QB Vince Evans who went on to a long NFL career as a back-up with one pick and traded the other to the Chiefs who took RB Andre Herrera who never played a down in the NFL.
7 - traded to N.Y. Jets for LB Richard Wood - Fantastic trade
Played in 132 games for the Bucs in their first nine seasons and started nearly 100. Known as the Batman, Wood was one of the mainstays of the great defenses John McKay built in Tampa. Was once disciplined by the NFL for wearing batman logos on his uniform in a game too! With this pick, the Jets selected RB Charlie White who went on to briefly play for the Buccaneers too.
8 - QB - Randy Hedberg - Minot State - Average pick
Had a great pre-season in 1977 and became the team's starting QB for the first four games. Then threw 10 interceptions, no TDs, completed less than 30% of his passes, and remains the lowest-ranked QB in team history.
9 - LB - Byron Hemingway - Boston College - Wasted pick
Never played a down for the Buccaneers. Was named All-East defensive end in his senior year, but at only 6-4 and 205, was converted to linebacker by the Bucs before being cut in camp. Never played football in the NFL at all.
9 - WR - Larry Mucker - Arizona State - Good pick
Played four seasons with the Bucs as a back-up receiver but also managed to start 11 in the process too.
10 - FB - Robert Morgan - Florida - Wasted pick
Never played a down for the Buccaneers. Had been a back-up to fellow Buc Jimmy DuBose for most of his college career with the Gators and finished his collegiate career with 731 yards on 174 carries. Never played football in the NFL at all.
10 - LB - Aaron Ball - Cal St.-Fullerton - Wasted pick
Never played a down for the Buccaneers. Had played all four years at college and called the defensive signals for the Titans in his senior year, also being named the league's Outstanding Defensive Player. Not outstanding enough to make the Bucs however. This pick was acquired in a trade with the 49ers for G John Miller.
11 - DB - Chuck Rodgers - North Dakota State - Wasted pick
Never played a down for the Buccaneers. Born in West Germany, Rodgers was known for his kick and punt return skills at college as much for his ability to play defensive back. Never played football in the NFL at all.
12 - WR - Chip Sheffield - Lenoir Rhyne - Wasted pick
Never played a down for the Buccaneers. Held most of the receiving records at his college before being drafted. Then again, how many great NFL receivers went to Lenoir Rhyne? Never played football in the NFL at all.
Summing up 1977|
Any review of this draft is going to weigh up whether the Bucs should have taken Tony Dorsett over Ricky Bell with the first overall selection. For John McKay, it was a no-brainer as Bell had been his tailback at USC. Whether Dorsett would have been as successful with the Bucs as he was with the Cowboys will of course remain a mystery. Lewis and Hannah were great selections and the trade for Richard Wood was simply outstanding. Overall, one would have to call this draft a limited success and certainly above average when grading every Buccaneer draft since 1976.