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Buccaneers draft backfield challenger in Bucky Irving

By Jared Smola | Updated on Sat, 27 Apr 2024, 1:39 PM EDT

The Buccaneers drafted Oregon RB Bucky Irving in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Irving earned 133 carries as a freshman at Minnesota, but left after that season. He transferred to Oregon in 2022 and immediately earned a 1A backfield role. That year, the 192-pounder showed surprising power with 4.36 yards after contact per attempt. Nearly 22% of his carries went for 10+ yards en route to a career-best 6.8 yards per carry. Irving struggled with drops, but that issue proved less worrisome in 2023. Irving even led the nation in receptions by a RB (55). He showed scheme versatility by lining up out wide on 13.2% of his passing snaps. He played the slot nearly 10% of the time. On the ground, Irving remained productive while running both gap and zone concepts. The junior posted career highs in carries (186), yards (1,192), and TDs (11). By mid-winter, it looked like Irving had a chance to be among the first couple of RBs selected. Then came a horrid NFL Combine that included a 2.25 Relative Athletic Score. Irving posted a 26th-percentile broad jump (9'7) and 4th-percentile vertical (29.5 inches). He came off the board sixth among RBs, though, and lands in a Tampa Bay backfield that presents opportunity. Rachaad White enjoyed a breakout 2023 but did so primarily thanks to touch volume. He ranked sixth-lowest among qualifiers in rush yards over expected per attempt, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Among 63 RBs with at least 60 carries, White ranked just 48th in yards after contact per attempt (according to Pro Football Focus). He even checked in just 27th in PFF receiving grade among 61 RBs with at least 20 targets. Expect Irving to siphon some work from White right away, with a chance to keep earning more. This is a good landing spot for Irving's dynasty outlook. We'll see where he lands in rookie ADP.

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Jared Smola, Lead Analyst
Jared has been with Draft Sharks since 2007. He’s now Lead Analyst, heading up the preseason and weekly projections that fuel your Draft War Room and My Team tools. He currently ranks 1st among 133 analysts in draft rankings accuracy.
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