Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rookie Forecast 2024

Tykee Smith - Bucs Rookie Forecast Featured Image

Solid Starter

Chris Braswell, OLB, Alabama – Round 2

The 2024 season will be put up or shut up time for former 2021 first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. Thus far in his pro career, Tryon-Shoyinka looks like a backup at best and is trending towards being a bust. Perhaps he will turn it around in 2024, but Tampa Bay has given him plenty of chances to break out and the Buccaneers are already planning for the future with the selection of Braswell in the second round.

In the ground game Braswell is a solid run defender considering he weighs just at 250 pounds. He flashes the ability to get off blocks and flow to the ball carrier. While Braswell is not big, he is strong for his size and has some natural power in his body. In the NFL, Braswell will need to get better at defending downhill runs coming straight at him.

As a pass rusher Braswell has a serious burst off the ball to work upfield and a first step that turns into being a fast edge rusher. With his speed and athleticism, Braswell is dangerous to fly around the corner and get quick pressure on the quarterback. However, Braswell lacks some size and needs development of pass rushing moves. He never had a dominant season at Alabama despite a great skill set and that illustrates the need for patient coaching at the pro level.

With a quality rusher across from him in YaYa Diaby along with dangerous interior rushers like Vita Vea and Calijah Kancey, Braswell should have plenty of single block opportunities. After getting some grooming in 2024, it would not surprise me if Braswell emerges as a solid starter for Tampa Bay in his second or third NFL season.

2023: Cody Mauch, G
2022: Logan Hall, DE
2021: Kyle Trask, QB
2020: Antoine Winfield Jr, S
2019: Mike Edwards, S
2018: Vita Vea, DT
2017: Chris Godwin, WR
2016: Roberto Aquayo, K
2015: Ali Marpet, G/C
2014: Mike Evans, WR
2013: Akeem Spence, DT

Most Likely To Bust

Tykee Smith, CB/S, Georgia – Round 3

The Bucs were in need of some cornerback and safety depth, so it makes sense that they addressed the secondary on the second day of the draft. Smith was more commonly projected to day three of the draft with a backup grade, but the Buccaneers see starting potential as third-round picks are projected to be backup to starter players. At 5-foot-10, 202-pounds Smith lacks height and has some tightness in coverage. I could see him having some issues with NFL receivers running past him and big wide outs catching passes over him. Smith might be a nickel back competitor for Tampa Bay, but his man coverage skills could be an issue against quality slot receivers. It would not surprise me if Smith ends up topping out as a backup only.

2023: YaYa Diaby, DE
2022: Rachaad White, RB
2021: Robert Hainsey, OT
2020: Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB
2019: Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB
2018: Alex Cappa, G
2017: Justin Evans, S
2016: Noah Spence, DE
2015: Donovan Smith, OT
2014: Charles Sims, RB
2013: William Gholston, DE

Potential Boom Pick

a spaceGraham Barton, C, Duke – Round 1

A subpar offensive line is one of the big reasons why the Buccaneers had a disappointing 2022 season in their final year with Tom Brady, and why they struggled to run the ball in 2023. If the Bucs were going to start Barton at tackle, I think he could have some bust potential. If they were going to start him at guard, I think he could be a solid starter. However at center, I think Barton has boom pick potential. I

Barton is generally a good pass protector. He is strong to sustain blocks and has good technique with hand placement. While Barton is not the quickest or fastest with his feet, he does nice job of getting depth in his drop to cut off the edge. He can glide with rushers and keep them from breaking free. With quality size, Barton can sink his weight and stop bull rushers. For the NFL though, Barton should move inside to guard. Speed to power rushers give him problems (see Florida State game with Jared Verse). His feet and lack of arm length are also issues for taking on pro edge rushers. Hence Barton should not stay at left tackle in the NFL and these issues would not be as big of problems at guard and definitely should not be a horrible issue at center.

As a run blocker, Barton has aggression and blocks with a mean streak. Barton is a throwback that blocks through the whistle, pushes defenders around, buries them into the ground, and finishes them off with violence. Barton has developed strength to push defenders out of their gap and open holes in the ground game. With heavy hands Barton is able to sustain his blocks after shocking defenders back. He also has enough quickness and athleticism to get to the second level. He can pull and would be a fit in a zone blocking or power man scheme.

With Tampa Bay, Barton should be a plug-and-play starter at center. He is a very good fit in Liam Coen’s offense with Barton’s flexibility to be a power man or zone blocker. After getting adjusted to NFL defensive linemen, Barton has the potential to be an excellent center as a pro and could be a pro bowl caliber player.

2023: Calijah Kancey, DT
2022: Luke Goedeke, G
2021: Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, DE
2020: Tristan Wirfs, RT
2019: Devin White, LB
2018: Ronald Jones, RB
2017: O.J. Howard, TE
2016: Vernon Hargreaves, CB
2015: Jameis Winston, QB
2014: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE
2013: Johnathan Banks, CB

Future Depth Player

a spaceBucky Irving, RB, Oregon – Round 4

In the fourth round, Tampa Bay drew on some nice running back depth to land Irving. As a runner, Irving (5-9, 192) is a quick back that is real threat to rip off a chunk gain anytime he touches the ball. He has a burst and accelerates through the hole with a second gear to break into the secondary. In the open field Irving has moves to dodge tacklers and some change of direction skills. Irving also has some strength to his build to run through tackles and pick up yards after contact, although that will be diminished at the NFL level compared to college. Still, Irving is tough and runs hard for a smaller back.

In the passing game Irving is a valuable contributor and that was given clear proof with 87 receptions over the past two seasons. He is an excellent route-runner out of the backfield and his shiftiness is very difficult to defend in the open field. His cutting ability and sudden bursts create separation from linebackers along with gaining yards after the catch. Vaughn is dangerous in space once he gets the ball in his hands as he weaves through defenders with his elusiveness. As a pro, he should be a real weapon for the passing game on wheel routes, screens, and check downs.

The Buccaneers have a solid starter in Rachaad White, so Irving won’t need to start unless they have injuries. After developing some at the pro level, I could see Irving being their top backup to White and providing some solid depth for Tampa Bay.

2023: Payne Durham, TE
2022: Cade Otton, TE
2021: Jaelon Darden, WR
2020: Tyler Johnson, WR
2019: Anthony Nelson, DE
2018: Justin Watson, WR
2017: Kendell Beckwith, LB
2016: Devante Bond, LB
2015: Kwon Alexander, LB
2014: Robert Herron, S
2013: Mike Glennon, QB