Raiders coach Jon Gruden has had his ups and downs in the first round
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- 2003: No first-round pick
- 2004: WR Michael Clayton (No.15 overall)
- 2005: RB Cadillac Williams (No.5 overall)
- 2006: OG Davin Joseph (No.23 overall)
- 2007: DE Gaines Adams (No.4 overall)
- 2008: DB Aqib Talib (No.20 overall)
Gruden had to wait until year three in Tampa Bay to get his hands on a first-round pick as those selections were sent to the Raiders in order to acquire the coveted head coach.
In 2004, his opportunity had come and Gruden drafted LSU wide receiver, Michael Clayton. At first glance, it appeared Clayton was evolving as a quality pass-catcher, posting 80 catches, 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns over his rookie season. Although, after Clayton’s stellar rookie campaign, he never went on to record more than 500 yards or two touchdowns in a single-season over the next seven years of his career.
Gruden stuck with the offense in 2005, drafting running back Cadillac Williams. He went on to be named the Offensive Rookie of the Year but his career was soon after derailed by injuries causing his production to drop off.
Sticking with the same approach, Gruden continued to bolster his offense in 2006 and he selected offensive guard Davin Joseph. He went on to be a productive starter in the league with two pro-bowl appearances throughout his nine-year career. By in large, Joseph was a quality pick that sustained some longevity in Tampa Bay.
Switching to defense in 2007, Gruden used the fourth overall pick on defensive end, Gaines Adams. The former Clemson pass-rusher never lived up to the bill of his high selection and was eventually traded after Gruden’s departure in Tampa Bay years later.
Gruden took cornerback Aquib Talib in 2008 and that selection appears to be his best first-round pick while being the decision-maker for the Buccaneers. Talib has bounced around the league but dating back to his prime years, he was one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL.
Ultimately, as a member of the Buccaneers, Gruden did not have the success you want when selecting a first-round pick, let alone two picks inside the top five that didn’t pan out. Gruden leaned more towards drafting offense but that also came around the time where Tampa Bay’s defense ranked among one of the top units in the league.
Gruden then joined ESPN before making his return back with the Raiders. In arriving for his second stint in Oakland, Gruden’s model of building a roster heavily depended on building it through the draft.