Tampa Bay Buccaneers Draft Grades: Rating every pick in the 2024 NFL Draft

How did the Bucs fare this weekend?
Colorado v Washington
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Round 4, Pick 125: Bucky Irving, RB/Oregon

Going into the NFL Draft, the Bucs had a concerning lack of depth behind starting running back Rachaad White. The team likes what they saw out of Chase Edmonds and Sean Tucker in limited action, but there is little production to back up the organization's belief in these players.

Many expected the Bucs would target a power running back during the draft, one with a playstyle opposite of White's so the two could form a complementary duo. Instead, they added another elusive back with strong receiving skills, which is similar to their current starter.

Some Bucs fans had their eyes on Ray Davis out of Kentucky or Audric Estime out of Notre Dame, both of whom fit the bill of taller, heavier backs who rely more on power than speed or elusiveness.

The selection of Irving has been met with some scrutiny due to his small statue -- measuring in at 5'9 and under 200 pounds. He seems like more of a third-down running back and doesn't have the build to shoulder the load of an offense. It might have made sense for the Bucs to instead look to add a running back who is capable of fulfilling an every-down role, if necessary.

Still, Irving had an impressive collegiate career with the Oregon Ducks.

He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in two consecutive seasons and finished with a robust 6.2 yards per carry in his college career. In 2023, he led all FBS running backs with 56 receptions. Irving is gifted as both a runner and a receiver, and while perhaps the Bucs could've drafted a running back that better complements their existing starter, Irving will contribute immediately as a third-down back and is a big-play threat whenever the ball is in his hands.

Grade: B

Round 6, Pick 220: Elijah Klein, OL/UTEP

This almost feels like the signature Jason Licht pick of the draft, as his affinity for developmental small-school offensive linemen who play violently and offer versatility is no secret.

Klein fits the bill to a tee, primarily playing as a guard at UTEP but offering the flexibility to play other positions on the offensive line if his number is called.

After drafting Graham Barton in the first round, the team once again makes an addition to the interior offensive line, but it is unlikely that Klein will contribute as a rookie. The team signed Ben Bredeson and Sua Opeta in the offseason; two veteran linemen who are expected to compete for the starting job at left guard.

There is speculation that Robert Hainsey could also compete for the starting guard spot, with Barton likely replacing him as the starting center. Their prior NFL experience will give them the immediate edge over the late-round rookie, but Klein can certainly earn a backup role and continue to develop until he is ready for a starting role in the position.

As is the case with most late-round prospects, Klein is a bit of a project, so time will tell if this pick pays off or not for the Buccaneers. The decision to take a late-round flier on a player who checks all the boxes the Bucs look for in a lineman is a promising one, and Klein has a legitimate chance to develop into an eventual contributor to the team in some capacity.

The selection of Klein was a low-risk, high-reward draft choice for the Bucs after they already addressed their more pressing needs earlier in the draft.

Grade: B+

Round 7: Devin Culp, TE/Washington

The Buccaneers select their second Washington Huskie in this draft class with the addition of Devin Culp.

He converted to tight end from wide receiver, so he possesses great speed and overall athleticism for a tight end prospect, as evidenced by his 4.47 40-yard dash. While he is a great athlete for the position, he lacks the desired size for an NFL tight end, measuring in at 6'3 and 230 pounds.

Sure, the Bucs need stronger depth at tight end, but it is unlikely Culp will be able to provide that depth or contribute early in his career. Culp occasionally makes splash plays and spectacular catches, but his moments of greatness are rare and quite inconsistent. Culp lacks some of the strength required for the tight end position and as a result, really struggles as a blocker. He also was inconsistent as a pass-catcher, with a notable drop problem.

Interestingly enough, Culp will be joining a pair of former college teammates: Jalen McMillian and Cade Otton.

Washington has become quite a pipeline to Tampa Bay; Along with Otton, McMillian, and Culp, the Buccaneers also drafted Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Vita Vea from the Huskies. Perhaps Licht received good intel on Culp from his sources at Washington.

Culp looks more destined for the practice squad than the active roster, at least for his rookie season. He is a very raw prospect, and it is highly unlikely he can beat out the Bucs' backup tight ends, Payne Durham and Ko Kieft, for a roster spot. Still, the seventh round of the draft is a crapshoot, and it is hard to be too critical of the front office for taking a low-risk swing on a top-end athlete at a position of need.

Grade: C+

Buccaneers 2024 NFL Draft Grade: B+

Jason Licht and his staff get a respectable B+ as their initial grade for the 2024 draft class. The front office did a great job addressing team needs throughout the draft and certainly improved the roster by a significant margin. The selections of Graham Barton and Tykee Smith stand out as the Bucs' best draft picks of the weekend, as they not only fill a need but also fit the scheme perfectly.

It is hard to be overly critical of this draft class without nitpicking unfairly. Jason Licht and his front office have more than earned the benefit of the doubt, and on paper, the 2024 NFL Draft class looks poised to become part of the next great generation of Buccaneers.

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