With the 2011 NFL Draft a little over two months away, we thought it would be fun to take a stroll down memory lane and take a look back at some of the best NFL draft classes of all-time. This week we take a look at the 1995 Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft class. Tampa Bay finished the 1994 season with a 6-10 record. The Buccaneers were going through a rough time with the death of owner Hugh Cloverhouse and the team was rumored to be moving from Tampa to the west coast.
Tampa Bay coach Sam Wyche knew his team needed to improve on the defensive side of the ball. They were ranked 20th in the league. The Buccaneers drafted Univ of Miami Defensive End Warren Sapp with the 12th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Sapp started 8 games his rookie season and put up good numbers. He had three sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD and 17 tackles. Sapp’s number would continue to improve each year. He had nine sacks and 41 tackles in his second season with Tampa Bay. Sapp would go on to have four double digit total sacks in his 13 years of playing in the NFL. His 96.5 career sacks are the second-highest career total sacks for a defensive tackle. Also, he won the 1999 NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year Award and made the Pro Bowl in seven of his thirteen seasons playing. Sapp retired from the NFL in 2008. Sapp can been every Sunday morning on the NFL Network as an analyst.
The Buccaneers stayed defensive minded with their next pick in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft. Tampa Bay selected Florida State Outside Linebacker Derrick Brooks with the 28th pick in the first round. Brooks started 13 games his first season with Tampa and had one sack, two forced fumbles, and 60 tackles. He would go on to have a great career in Tampa making the Pro Bowl in 11 of the 13 years in the NFL. He won the 2000 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award and the 2002 NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year Award . From 1995 to 2008, Brooks started 221 of 224 games, recording 1,698 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 25 interceptions, and six touchdowns. Tampa Bay released Brooks in Feb 2009 and spent 2010 as a free agent. Brooks officially announced his retirement on August 11, 2010. Brooks is now a football analyst for ESPN and co-host of The Red Zone on Sirius NFL Radio .
Tampa Bay improved their defense with these two players in the 1995 season and finished with a 7-9 record. The Buccaneers improved to 12th in overall defense in 1995 and would go on to be a top 10 defense for the next nine years. Also, they won Super Bowl XXXVII over the Oakland Raiders 48-21. Brooks had a 44-yard interception return for a touchdown in the win.
1995 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Draft Class
Rd Sel # Player Position School
1 12 Warren Sapp DT Miami (Fla.)
1 28 Derrick Brooks OLB Florida State
2 43 Melvin Johnson SAF Kentucky
4 105 Jerry Wilson DB Southern University
5 143 Clifton Abraham CB Florida State
6 179 Wardell Rouse LB Clemson
7 215 Steve Ingram T Maryland
7 227 Jeff Rodgers DE Texas A&M – Kingsville