Why Undrafted?: Sean Tucker, RB, Syracuse

By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

This series was created a number of years ago in response to questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For these articles, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

During the 2022 college football season, there was a good amount of media hype about Syracuse running back Sean Tucker. He had produced well in 2021, and he followed that up with a respectable 2022 season. While Tucker played well for the Orange over the past few seasons, NFL teams were not impressed enough to select him in the 2023 NFL Draft, so he slid into the undrafted ranks.

NFL sources shared with WalterFootball.com that the the biggest factor for Tucker’s falling undrafted was because teams had him graded as a backup. Players with backup grades are on Day 3 of draft boards. Starters are first- or second-rounders, while many third-round picks are assessed as backup-caliber players who could potentially develop into starters. Tucker faced some medical concerns as well, but teams felt that he lacked a defining trait, which caused them to view him as a future backup. They saw Tucker as not overly powerful or fast for the next level and likely to also struggle in pass blocking. Those thing, in combination with the medical questions, led to Tucker ending up as an undrafted free agent.

After falling through the 2023 NFL Draft, Tucker signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were a good landing spot for him, because they have an open competition for their starting running back position after cutting Leonard Fournette. Second-year pro Rachaad White is the favorite to be starter, although veteran Chase Edmonds is in the running as well. Ke’Shawn Vaughn could be a factor as well, but if Tucker plays well in the preseason, he definitely has a shot to make Tampa Bay’s roster and carve out a role with the team.

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