The NFL draft is over, but that doesn’t mean that the talent grab is done. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, along with the rest of the league, made many signings of undrafted free agents. Some of these signings are very interesting and could compete to make the final 53 man roster come the fall.
As it sits now, there are two players in particular that I believe will make the final cut when it’s all said and done. Those are Syracuse running back Sean Tucker and Rutgers safety Christian Izien. Each of these two bring a valuable skill set that I believe can make a big impact with the Buccaneers.
Sean Tucker, RB, Syracuse
Tucker is an incredible athlete. He didn’t participate in the combine due to a medical issue, but he put on a show at his private workout. He recorded a 4.33 40 yard dash, as well as jumping 41.5 inches in the vertical jump and bench pressing 225 lbs 28 times. These are all elite numbers for a running back.
On the field, it’s easy to see these traits with the pads on. When Tucker finds space, he explodes through the crease. He has break away speed to be a home run threat on every play and he has the toughness to run between the tackles.
Beyond his physical gifts, Tucker shows good vision to find the gap. Once a defender steps up to tackle him, Tucker has subtle elusiveness to make a man miss in space or navigate tight spaces. In terms of carrying the rock, this is one of the best five running backs from this class.
The one thing he will need to be more consistent with is in the passing game. Tucker showed a willingness as a blocker, but this was not an area of strength. There were also some drops to his game, which could improve with more consistent quarterback play.
It’s worth noting that Tucker fell out of the draft due to a medical red flag. His talent certainly warranted being drafted, likely in the second or third round, but with his health somewhat of a question mark teams chose not to take the risk on him. Obviously the Buccaneers felt comfortable with his medical evaluation and were willing to sign him.
Now that he is on the team he will have a real chance to make an impact. With his talent I wouldn’t be surprised to see him winning the backup running back job over KeShawn Vaughn and Chase Edmonds. I can even see a path where Tucker is the long term starter down the line.
Christian Izien, S, Rutgers
Versatility is the name of the game with Izien. He played time as a deep safety as well as in the nickel. This is the type of depth player that the Bucs are in desperate need of and it should lead to a good opportunity for Izien.
Izien was named to the Big Ten All Academic team for the last three seasons. He also made 41 consecutive starts in college. This means his intelligence and experience are as good as it gets coming out of college.
This led to great production on the field. Izien recorded 65+ tackles every year for the last four seasons. He constantly puts himself in a good position to make plays and does all the little things well.
Athletically, Izien checks all the boxes. He might only be 5 ’8, but at 200 lbs and putting up 20 reps on the bench press you wouldn’t call him small. However, he has the 4.43 speed you would expect from a guy with his smaller stature.
This combination of athletic ability and intelligence makes for a promising combination. With questions surrounding the Bucs nickel defender job as well as depth at safety it is a golden opportunity to stick with this team. If nothing else his speed and strength will make him a dynamic special team player.
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