On this date in 1995, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a pair of decisions that ultimately resulted in a Super Bowl championship. On April 22, 1995, the Buccaneers used a pair of first-round picks on defensive end Warren Sapp and linebacker Derrick Brooks.
The Buccaneers actually had their eye on Sapp throughout the pre-draft process that year, and they probably would have selected at him No. 7 before ultimately moving back to No. 12. As former head coach Sam Wyche explained, the organization made the trade assuming that the Miami star would be selected in the top-five. When Sapp’s draft stock started to drop, the Buccaneers realized they still might get their guy despite the trade.
“[W]e would simulate one group of five players gone and another group of five players gone, and in every one of our mock drafts Warren Sapp was gone in the top five,” Wyche wrote on PewterReport.com. “We eventually decided to trade down to the 12th overall pick in the first round, but started to realize that we still might have a shot at drafting Sapp.
“There were rumors of drug use and him messing around and being a little bit of a fun guy in college, like all of us were, but they label certain people and Sapp got the label, and once that happens it can sometimes get out of hand like it did for Warren. Our scouts knew the players at all of the Florida schools very well because we had such a close geographical relationship and formed close and honest relationships with their coaches and trainers.
“We went through all of those checkpoints and everything came back positive. While we still had to see if he fell to us, we made the decision as a group that if Warren Sapp were still there when we picked at number 12 overall he would be a Buccaneer. Even at that point we all looked long and hard at each other to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything, and we hadn’t, so we drafted Warren Sapp. We all liked him. I mean everybody – myself, Rich, Jerry Angelo – everybody. We really believed it was a great pick.”
So, with the No. 12 pick in the 1995 draft, the Buccaneers selected Sapp (much to the dismay of Jets fans…seriously, watch that video).
The Buccaneers weren’t done wheeling and dealing. The team later traded a pair of seconds (including one that they originally acquired in the trade that sent out No. 7) to the Cowboys for No. 28, selecting Florida State linebacker Derrick Brooks.
“Derrick Brooks was a much easier decision to make in terms of trading up from the second round to draft him with the 28th pick in the first round,” Wyche wrote. “We didn’t think he was going to be there, though, so that’s why we jumped at the chance to select him.”
How did the picks work out for Tampa Bay? For starters, Sapp and Brooks played major roles in guiding the Bucs to a victory in Super Bowl XXXVII. The two players combined for 18 Pro Bowls, 15 All-Pro nods, and a pair of Defensive Player of the Year awards. The Buccaneers also earned the distinction of being one of three teams (Bears in 1965 (Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers) and later the Ravens in 1996 (Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis)) to select a pair of Hall of Famers in the same round.
When the first round ended 26 years ago tonight, we’re sure the Buccaneers were thrilled with their selections. However, we doubt even they anticipated the kind of impact their two draft picks would have.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.