As NFL draft picks go, what colleges have most benefitted the Bucs?

If the Bucs’ affinity for University of Washington players continues at its current clip, purple might overtake pewter as a primary team color.

The team has drafted four Huskies players in the last four drafts, including two — receiver Jalen McMillan and tight end Devin Culp — last weekend. Toss in 2018 first-round pick Vita Vea, and that’s five Huskies chosen by the Bucs in the last seven drafts, and 11 UW players drafted by Tampa Bay in its history.

All of which got us to thinking: Which college programs have most benefited the Bucs during their existence? Study the team’s draft history, and it’s clear the organization has tapped into some schools more than others, with mixed results.

Take Washington, for instance: Have those 11 Huskies collectively represented a draft bonanza for Tampa Bay? Were there more washouts than standouts? Is it too early for a verdict?

We combed through the draft annals and came up with what we deem the seven schools that, over the course of time, have most effectively fortified the Bucs’ roster. This isn’t necessarily about which schools have produced the most Bucs draft picks (barely any of Tennessee’s 12 Bucs draftees panned out), but which have combined to offer quality and quantity.

See if you agree with our rankings. (Players are listed with the round and year in which they were drafted.)

7. USC

Players drafted: 12

Players who made roster: 11

Best picks: LB Dave Lewis (second, 1977), RB Ricky Bell (first, 1977), DB Brian Kelly (second, 1998)

Busted picks: LB Keith Browner (second, 1984)

Summary: Of the 12 Trojans drafted by the Bucs, five were late-rounders (fifth or later) that never really panned out. Browner, who spent only three inconsequential seasons in Tampa, seems the only bona fide bust. Bell was the bell-cow back of Tampa Bay’s first playoff team, and Lewis was a Pro Bowler in 1980. Kelly had 22 interceptions in 10 seasons (including eight in the 2002 Super Bowl season). And we’d be remiss in omitting tailback Ronald Jones, who totaled more than 1,700 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in a two-year span (2019-2020).

6. Florida

Players drafted: 11

Players who made roster: 10

Best picks: LB Scot Brantley (third, 1980), RB Errict Rhett (second, 1994), OT Kenyatta Walker (first, 2001)

Busted picks: CB Vernon Hargreaves (first, 2016)

Summary: While the Gators haven’t yet produced an All-Pro for the Bucs, they have given Tampa Bay a number of players (i.e. Brantley, Rhett, Walker and receivers Jacquez Green and Reidel Anthony) who were productive for limited stretches. Rhett had a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons, and Walker (73 starts in 75 games) was a fixture on the offensive line until injuring his knee. Hargreaves, who had two interceptions in parts of four seasons, was waived shortly after failing to hustle to make a tackle in a 2019 game.

5. LSU

Players drafted: 8

Players who made roster: 6

Best picks: LB Devin White (first, 2019); LB Kwon Alexander (fourth, 2015), DT Booger McFarland (first, 1999)

Busted picks: WR Michael Clayton (first, 2004)

Summary: White’s forgettable final months in Tampa don’t negate the fact he was the undisputed defensive catalyst during the 2020 team’s Super Bowl run. Alexander made a ton of tackles during his four-season stint as a Buc and made a Pro Bowl. Clayton led all rookie receivers with 80 catches for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns in 2004 but never caught more than 38 in any of the next five seasons. A year after the team inexplicably signed him to a five-year, $26 million extension (in 2009), it released him.

4. Nebraska

Players drafted: 12

Players who made roster: 8

Best picks: LB Lavonte David (second, 2012), LB Barrett Ruud (second, 2005)

Busted picks: G Brett Moritz (second, 1978)

Summary: David, back for a 13th season, is a future Ring of Honor recipient, and Ruud was a tackling machine (with six interceptions to boot) for four consecutive years. While 1989 first-rounder Broderick Thomas didn’t pan out for the long term, he did tie a team record with 174 tackles (and seven forced fumbles) in 1991. Moritz, the 44th overall pick in 1978, lasted one season and didn’t start a game. The jury remains out on receiver Trey Palmer, a sixth-round pick in 2023 who had an encouraging rookie year (39 catches, three touchdowns).

3. Pittsburgh

Players drafted: 7

Players who made roster: 7

Best picks: DT David Logan (12th, 1979), LB Hugh Green (first, 1981), S Jordan Whitehead (fourth, 2018)

Busted picks: WR Gordon Jones (second, 1979)

Summary: If Calijah Kancey (first round, 2023) and SirVocea Dennis (fifth, 2023) keep trending upward, Pitt can lay a rightful claim to producing the best Bucs pipeline ever. Logan, who finished his career in Tampa ranked second on the team’s career sacks list and sixth in tackles, is one of the franchise’s best draft steals ever. Green was a two-time first-team All-Pro before injuries short-circuited his career. Whitehead, a starter in the “Grave Diggers” secondary that won a Super Bowl, is back for a second stint after two years with the Jets.

2. Oklahoma

Players drafted: 10

Players who made roster: 8

Best picks: DE Lee Roy Selmon (first, 1976), DT Dewey Selmon (second, 1976), DT Gerald McCoy (first, 2010), G Davin Joseph (first, 2006)

Busted picks: None

Summary: While the Sooners make this list on the strength of the Selmon brothers alone, the school kept boosting the Bucs roster in ensuing decades. McCoy was a perennial Pro Bowler in a bleak Bucs era, and Joseph made two Pro Bowls. No Sooners selection by the Buccaneers qualifies as a bust, which is to say all six Oklahoma players chosen in the first or second round (including linebacker Kevin Murphy and guard Greg Roberts) evolved into serviceable multi-season starters for Tampa Bay.

1. FSU

Players drafted: 12

Players who made roster: 11

Best picks: LB Derrick Brooks (first, 1995), WR Lawrence Dawsey (third, 1991), RB Warrick Dunn (first, 1997), LB Geno Hayes (sixth, 1998), DB Dexter Jackson (fourth, 1999)

Busted picks: PK Roberto Aguayo (second, 2016)

Summary: Dadgum if Bobby Bowden didn’t export some dudes from Tallahassee to Tampa. Brooks evolved into one of the franchise’s best players, and Dunn evolved into one of its best humanitarians (not to mention its No. 3 all-time rusher). Considering where they were drafted, Hayes and Jackson delivered solid value, with Jackson earning MVP honors in Super Bowl 37. Debate will forever rage on Jameis Winston’s impact on the franchise, but as draft busts go, few will argue Aguayo remains the Ryan Leaf of this team.

Honorable mentions


Tigers gave the Bucs a starting cornerback tandem (Jamel Dean, Carlton Davis) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Cadillac Williams)


The Bucs have drafted 13 ‘Canes, but only one (Warren Sapp) was a bona fide star in Tampa. Vinny Testaverde starred elsewhere.


Huskies could crack the top five in a few years if Cade Otton remains consistent and the 2024 draftees pan out

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