The Tampa Bay Buccaneers certainly took advantage of the time after the 2023 NFL Draft, signing 19 undrafted players as free agents. History says the vast majority of these players will not be on the roster when the season begins. However, there are a trio of players who, given their talent levels and the makeup of the Bucs’ roster, have perhaps a better chance than the rest of the signees to stick around and make the roster this fall.
RB Sean Tucker – Syracuse
How Tucker didn’t hear his name called in Kansas City is more than a moderate surprise. The 5’9″, 207-pound back finished third in Syracuse history for career rushing yards, and they’ve put out some really good backs over the years. His 1496 rushing yards in 2021 set the school record for a season.
Tucker’s calling card to rack up those numbers is his speed in space. He was a state champion sprinter in high school, and that translated over to his time at Syracuse. His time at Syracuse and physical makeup clearly show he won’t be a north-south between-the-tackles banger, but he has the quickness and speed to get yards other players might not. He also isn’t the best pass protector, so he’ll have to work on that to see the field more on passing downs.
However, his path to the Buccaneers’ final roster might be the clearest. The Bucs have Chase Edmonds and little else behind incumbent starter Rachaad White. They selected no backs during the draft; fellow UDFA RB signee Ronnie Brown from Shepherd University was the only other addition. As such, Tucker should have plenty of opportunity in camp this fall to earn a backup RB spot.
LB Jeremy Banks – Tennessee
The Buccaneers drafted LB SirVocea Dennis in the 5th round of the draft. They could just as easily have taken Banks there and it would have been no surprise. Banks’ time in Knoxville as the leader of Tennessee’s defense was certainly up and down, but his 2021 season left no doubt that Banks has a place in the NFL. In 13 games, Banks totaled 128 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and 1 interception.
Banks has what you can’t teach at linebacker: pure speed and athleticism. He posted a 4.53 second 40 yard dash and placed in the top 16% of all linebackers at the combine in 10-yard split, vertical, and broad jump. And when you’re at the back end of the draft or past it, it’s absolutely worth banking on athleticism and upside, and Banks oozes both. The lack of proven depth behind Devin White and Lavonte David at the inside linebacker positions gives Banks a true chance to stick this fall.
OT Luke Haggard – Indiana
Haggard isn’t a player who will wow you, but he does pretty much everything good enough. At 6’6″ and around 300 pounds, the former Indiana tackle still has room to grow into his long frame and improve his ability to hold up to power rushes. He stood out at the East-West Shrine Bowl, as the Patriots commended his ability to pass protect and run block.
What makes Haggard one to keep an eye on is, again, opportunity. The Buccaneers took one offensive tackle in the draft: Cody Mauch from North Dakota State. However, he projects to slide inside to guard. The Bucs could shift Tristan Wirfs to left tackle and move Luke Goedeke back to right tackle, where he played in college. Swing tackle Josh Wells also signed with Jacksonville last month. As such, there’s a lot of uncertainty and a lack of quality depth at the tackle spots. If Haggard can stand out – as well as show the ability to play both sides – he has an outstanding opportunity to earn a chance at a backup role this fall.
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