The Tampa Bay Rays and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rely on first-year player drafts to build their teams. Which of these #1 draft picks was a bigger mistake?
In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays made high school shortstop Tim Beckham the overall first pick in the MLB draft. This fact frequently comes up, not necessarily because Tim Beckham was a bust. Rather, it’s debated for who the Rays passed up in taking Beckham. The Rays have forever searched for a franchise catcher. Buster Posey was there for the taking. Hindsight being what it is, the Rays made a terrible mistake.
In 2014, the Tampa Bay Bucs selected quarterback Jameis Winston with the overall first pick in that year’s draft. With Winston’s upcoming three game suspension to begin the 2018 season, the debate resumes of whether the Bucs took the right quarterback.
Again, Winston hasn’t necessarily been bad. But, his time with Tampa Bay came with baggage and carrying him is getting heavier. If given the decision again, you would have to wonder if the Bucs would opt for the other option in the 2014 draft, Marcus Mariota. Their first three seasons in the NFL have been similar, with both starting from day one. But, Mariota tends to stay out of the headlines when he is not on the field. That certainly isn’t said of Winston.
One Mulligan: Do you take a do-over on Beckham or Winston?
When I look at overall impact on the progress of the team, I wish the Tampa Bay Rays would have gone with the pick that seemed to make most sense for the organization. Buster Posey, the catcher, played just up the road at Florida State. By the time they were making this pick, they already had David Price and Evan Longoria in the fold. Both of these selections were after successful college careers. There was no reason for them to take a chance on Tim Beckham.
2008 was the year the Rays seemed to turn the corner in becoming a realistic competitor in the AL East. The selection of Posey should have kept the Rays in the national headlines for years to come. Just think of the impact that pick could have had on attendance. If the Rays would have had more butts in seats over the past ten years, you would have to hope it would have made them more competitive in the free agent market. They may not have been as quick to discard their own talent.
Unfortunately, we’ll play the “what if” game forever. But, comparing these two overall #1 picks that Tampa Bay sports was faced with over the past ten years or so, I’m guessing there are only a few that appreciate what Tim Beckham brought to the Rays. On the other hand, Jameis Winston seems to still have his fans, regardless of how he spends his time in Publix or in an Uber.