Commentary

12 things: Tampa Bay's young talent

12 rookies are now contributing for the Buccaneers

Updated: November 19, 2010, 4:15 PM ET
By David Fleming | ESPN The Magazine
Gerald McCoy and Mike WilliamsUS Presswire, AP PhotoGerald McCoy and Mike Williams have played big roles for the Bucs this year.

In preparing for the 2010 draft, Tampa Bay Bucs GM Mark Dominik spent a lot of time studying the scouting and player selection methods of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team well known for its impressive track record in the draft, including a legendary class of rookies in 1974 that produced four Hall of Famers.

But after the rookie class that Dominik has put together this season I wonder if the Steelers, and other teams, shouldn't start to study him.

Last week the Bucs improved to 6-3 by beating the Carolina Panthers with a lineup that featured a total of 12 rookies. In that 31-16 win, Tampa Bay started seven rookies (three of them drafted in the seventh round). It was the first time since the 2002 Dallas Cowboys that a team started that many rookies -- and won.

Yes, I know, the numbers are skewed, in part, because of injuries and a talent-depleted roster. But 12 usable players in one draft? (More if you don't count the rookie starters out with injuries, like defensive tackle Brian Price.) It would take a team like the Detroit Lions a decade to draft that many starters. No, that's not exactly right. It would probably be more like 15 years.

Anyway, in honor of what could be one of the best draft classes of the decade, here's a look at the 12 Bucs rookies who made history this week: