Gruden Speaks: First-round frenzy

In today's edition of "Gruden Speaks," the Buccaneers head coach talks about the plethora of first-round picks on the Bucs' roster, and why a high selection doesn't always mean they're guaranteed a great career. Plus, his curtailed Monday practice transcript will be up shortly (a failing voice forced him to only answer a few questions).

It's a number that, on one hand leaves one hopeful. On the other, it reveals the strange, volatile nature of pro football.

Tampa Bay has an NFL-high 16 first-round draft choices on their roster. The range of their NFL success is startling.

You have players like wide receiver Joey Galloway and Kevin Carter, ones that have put together fine careers in the NFL. But there are others like defensive tackle Ryan Sims or cornerback Sammy Davis. Sims failed to gain a foothold during five years in Kansas City. Davis started as a rookie in San Diego, but never fit in with the Chargers or the San Francisco 49ers before he came to Tampa this offseason.

A first-round selection is no guarantee of success in the NFL. Sometimes, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said, a change of scenery can be the perfect antidote.

"Some of these guys we actually liked ourselves, as a staff, coming into the league," Gruden said. "And some of these men sometimes when they change teams, they find a new niche, they find a home and they play better."

Davis, a first-rounder in 2003, fell out of favor in San Francisco last season when he couldn't claim a starting spot. Left tackle Luke Petitgout, a first-rounder in 1999, was released by the New York Giants for cap considerations, plus his rehabilitation from a broken leg. Tight end Jerramy Stevens, a first-rounder in 2002, had numerous brushes with the law, including an arrest in March, which led to Seattle choosing not re-sign him.

In some ways, Tampa Bay has become a place for first-round picks to make a comeback. Minnesota let Chris Hovan go before the 2005 season. The Vikings took him late in the first round in the 2000 Draft, but he fell out of favor. So he signed for the veteran minimum in Tampa Bay and has grown into a leader on the defensive line. Plus, he's in the second year of a five-year contract.

The same can be said for wide receiver David Boston, who has missed most of the last three seasons to injuries but is finally looking more like the receiver he was in Arizona, where the Cardinals made him a first-round pick in 1999.

Gruden said the Buccaneers are not signing these guys just because they were first-round picks.

"Where you get picked in the draft really has no meaning in terms of who we go after," he said. "We want to try to acquire good players. We were able to get some guys that we did like as a staff, and we're happy about that."

The other eight first-round picks on the roster are DE Gaines Adams, RB Carnell Williams, OG Davin Joseph, WR Michael Clayton, LB Derrick Brooks, WR Ike Hilliard, CB Phillip Buchanon and TE Anthony Becht.

Here is the transcript from Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden's morning press conference at training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports on Monday, July 30

On who stood out to him during today's practice

I can't call anybody out. There were some good things and some things that weren't so good, but I'm not calling anybody out.

On WR Maurice Stovall leaving the field early

He had to get an IV. It's nothing serious. He ran out of fluids this morning.

On if he's seen the intensity he likes

Yes. Some guys it's not good enough yet. We've got a long way to go. We're playing a lot of different combinations. There are some very physical plays, but were not there yet.

On if DE Gaines Adams is holding his own

I'm going to reserve comment on Gaines until a week or so into camp. I hate to talk about him every day. It's too early to tell. He's doing some good things. There are clearly some things he's got to pick up quick.

On DE/LB Patrick Chukwurah

He's also an athletic guy who's got great energy, and he's a physical guy who can run and rush the passer. He's a versatile guy; he can play a lot of different positions. And he is doing some good things.

On if LB Derrick Brooks was still limited today

Yes.

On QB Bruce Gradkowski

He's doing some good things, obviously. He managed the no-huddle offense today and did some good things. He is a lot further along today than he was at this time a year ago, but he still has a ways to go.

On the competition between wide receivers David Boston and Maurice Stovall

We've got a lot of competition. Luke McCown is in it at quarterback. He's taken a lot of snaps. At wide receiver, David Boston has been excellent. Maurice Stovall is doing exactly what we wanted him to do, and that's step up and be a much better player his second year. And he is doing that.

On if WR Michael Clayton is getting more special teams work than in prior seasons

No, not really. He's playing special teams because we did lose some key special teamers.


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