Rating every 2024 Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft pick by star potential

Who will stand out among the Bucs most recent draft class and emerge as key pieces of the future?
2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington
2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington / Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/GettyImages

With seven picks in the 2024 NFL draft, it's safe to say the Buccaneers were one of the busier teams in the league from April 25-27. Although Tampa Bay held the No. 26 pick in the first round and a number of late-round picks, GM Jason Licht and the front office still landed several key contributors on both sides of the ball.

Even so, not every pick will pan out for the Buccaneers within the next seasons. From the Buccaneers' first-round pick Graham Barton to seventh-round selection Devin Culp, here is a ranking of all the draft selections on a five-star scale.

Round One, Pick 26: Graham Barton, OL/Duke

Pick Rating: 5/5

With an aging and struggling offensive line, adding young and new talent on the line proved to be the Buccaneers' top priority this offseason. In the draft, the Buccaneers used their first-round pick to select Duke's Graham Barton, who was a two-time All-American and All-ACC First Team honoree that has positional versatility to play all five spots on the offensive line.

In 39 career starts (34 at left tackle and five at center) at Duke, Barton continued to get better each and every season on the Blue Devils' offensive line. In nine starts this past season, Barton allowed just nine quarterback hurries and two sacks in 496 snaps, equating to a solid 75.9 PFF grade.

This season, Barton projects to slot in as Tampa Bay's starting center in replacement of Ryan Jensen, with Tristan Wirfs, Bredeson, Cody Mauch, and Luke Goedeke, starting at the other four positions. With those five linemen all 26 years old or younger, Tampa Bay's offensive line has gotten a lot younger and has gained the potential to develop into a quality group in the future.

Round Two, Pick 57: Chris Braswell, OLB/Alabama

Chris Braswell
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Pick Rating: 4/5

With the departure of middle linebacker Devin White and outside linebacker Shaq Barrett in free agency, linebacker became a glaring need for Tampa Bay to address in the draft. From White's dynamic play in coverage to Barretts' powerful pass-rushing skills, adding a linebacker to cover or rush was a guarantee for Tampa Bay with one of their top three picks.

With their second-round pick, the Buccaneers did just that with the addition of Braswell, a standout pass rusher from Alabama. Starting in 14 games, Braswell recorded 42 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, one pass breakup, one interception, and three forced fumbles, and was named to the All-SEC Second Team for his efforts.

Like Barton, Braswell projects to be a day-one starter in Tampa Bay, taking the starting role at right outside linebacker. Braswell, alongside left outside linebacker Yaya Diaby and middle linebackers Lavonte David and KJ Britt, are set to fill the voids left by White and Barrett, with the former set to add a cost-free solution capable of rushing the passer as well as anyone in the draft.

Round Three, Pick 89: Tykee Smith, CB/Georgia

Joshua Helsdon, Tykee Smith
Georgia v Tennessee / Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Pick Rating: 4/5

By trading Davis III to Detroit, Tampa Bay was able to draft McMillan to bolster their receiving room, while leaving space to add a replacement for Davis III in the secondary. Three picks after selecting McMillan, Tampa Bay chose Smith, a 5'10", 198-pound corner who did it all in college.

Smith, a fifth-year senior at Georgia, finished his college career with a team-high 70 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two pass breakups, and four interceptions in 14 games, and was named to CBS Sports' All-American Second Team.

As it stands, Smith will likely take one of the three starting cornerback spots, in addition to incumbent starter Jamel Dean (61 tackles, four pass breakups) and Zyon McCollum. Instead of the traditional outside corner role that Dean and McCollum will play, Smith is expected to slot in as the Buccaneers' Nickelback, while also playing down as a sub-linebacker in extra linemen packages. With a majority of their top picks gone, landing Smith was an excellent pick, and may even be labeled as a steal in the coming years.

Round Three, Pick 92: Jalen McMillan, WR/Washington

Jalen McMillan
Washington v Stanford / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

Pick Rating: 4.5/5

Entering the draft, Tampa Bay using one of their top three picks on a wide receiver would be considered a luxury rather than fixing an area of need. With the addition of the Lion's third-round selection from the Carlton Davis III trade, the Buccaneers could afford to add another quality weapon for quarterback Baker Mayfield in the earlier rounds.

With the No. 92 pick, Tampa Bay added McMillan, who projects to immediately slot in as the Buccaneers' No. 3 receiver behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. As a senior, McMillan blossomed into a star deep-threat receiver for the Huskies. In 11 starts, McMillan notched 45 receptions for 559 yards, five touchdowns, and 12.4 yards per catch, and was selected to the All-Pac-12 Second Team.

Under offensive coordinator Liam Coen in Tampa Bay, McMillan projects to be one of the Buccaneers' two downfield receivers on the outside, alongside Evans. While McMillan is a solid slot receiver, Coen has made it clear that he'll use Godwin in the slot this year. With a 4.47 40-yard dash time and high-quality production in college, however, McMillan projects to have an immediate impact in Tampa as a rookie.

Round Four, Pick 125: Bucky Irving, RB/Oregon

Jabbar Muhammad, Bucky Irving
Oregon v Washington / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Even with the stout play of Rachaad White, Tampa Bay added Oregon running back Bucky Irving in the fourth round to their backfield in hopes of improving the league's worst rushing attack last season. Irving, a two-time All-Pac-12 First Team Selection, is one of the most elusive and athletically gifted backs in his draft class.

For reference, Irving recorded 186 carries, 2,238 rushing yards, and 21 touchdowns on the ground, while catching 87 passes for 712 receiving yards and five touchdowns through the air in two seasons as a Duck. With Irving leading the rushing attack, Oregon's offense averaged 41.5 points and 515.9 yards per game, both top-ten marks in the nation.

Now in Tampa Bay, Irving will likely split the workload with White at 60/40, although the former could overtake the latter with a strong start to the season. With the pairing of White and Irving, Coen has a two-headed engine to the Buccaneers' run game, and a prime opportunity to relieve pressure off Mayfield in the passing game

Round Six, Pick 220: Elijah Klein, OG/UTEP

Pick Rating: 3.75

Toward the end of day three of the draft, the Buccaneers wisely addressed their offensive and defensive lines with star-studded prospects, while adding players to their receiving core and secondary in the previous rounds. In doing so, Tampa Bay had the luxury of using their final two picks in any form they saw fit.

In the sixth round, Tampa Bay decided to go back to the offensive linemen well and add Klein, a five-year starter in UTEP's run-heavy (58-42 run-pass split) offense. With 55 career starts from 2018-2023, Klein is an extremely efficient zone run-blocker who plays long with good hand placement, play strength and posture to steer defenders away from the ball.

This past season, Klein made the All-C-USA First Team for the first time, and the All-C-USA Academic Honor Roll for the fourth straight year. At 24 years old, Klein is old for a rookie, but is another developmental offensive lineman for the Buccaneers to employ in 2024 alongside fellow rookie Barton.

Round Seven, Pick 246: Devin Culp, TE/Washington

Devin Culp, Robert Barnes
Washington v Colorado / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

Pick Rating: 3/5

It's important to preface this rating with the fact that most seventh-round picks simply don't work out in the NFL. Outside of the obvious exceptions in Shannon Sharpe, Bo Jackson, Julian Edelman, Jordan Mailata, and Brock Purdy, most seventh-rounders just don't pan out over a career.

That said, the selection of Culp in the final round of the draft is still puzzling. In 14 games in his final season at Washington, Culp caught just 16 passes for 208 receiving yards and two touchdowns, all career-lows. Of course, Culp was just one of many receiving threats for quarterback Michael Penix, and was often overlooked by fellow draft picks Rome Odunze, McMillan, and Ja'Lynn Polk.

If the Buccaneers were truly interested in drafting a solid tight end capable of overtaking incumbent starter Cade Otton in the depth chart, then Tampa Bay should have looked at 6'3" wide receiver Cornelius Johnson or 6'1" wide receiver Jalen Coker, who had stout college production in addition to big and physical frames. Again, you just never know with seventh-round picks, so the Culp selection could play out to be one of the best picks of the draft. Only time will tell.

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