Grading The Buccaneers 2024 NFL Draft Class


The NFL draft has come and gone in the blink of an eye. After months of speculation, analysis and mock drafts, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally have their rookie class. Now it’s just a matter of getting them on the field and seeing how they turn out.

However, just because they haven’t even stepped in the facility yet, doesn’t mean we can’t grade how good or bad these picks were. And yes, I know, we won’t really be able to say if these were the right pick or not for a year or two down the line, but that doesn’t stop us from having our fun now. Afterall, we evaluated these players well in advance to have an understanding of how they might fit with the Bucs and where they project to go in the draft.

Here are my initial draft grades for the Buccaneers 2024 rookie class

Graham Barton – B+

Basically everyone agrees that Barton was an excellent interior offensive line prospect. He explosions forwards as a run blocker and is incredibly athletic for the position. The consensus among draft experts is that this is a future pro bowl center. 

However, I was lower on him going into the draft. I preferred both Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson and West Virginia’s Zach Frazier at the same position. There are concerns with Barton’s hand usage and the way he works in space based on his college tape last year.

I believe both the experts’ opinions and mine can be correct here. Keep in mind that Barton played tackle in college, so moving inside can mitigate some of the issues I have with his game. At the same time, the Bucs are getting a little bit of a work in progress here.

I don’t deny that Barton has pro bowl potential and even an all pro upside. I just need to see some development here before I can say that this was a home run pick.

Chris Braswell – A

Many early mock drafts projected Braswell to the Bucs as early as the first round. This was always too rich for my blood. As much as I liked the athletic ability and pure talent of Braswell, I never saw him as a potential first round pick.

This is because he just hasn’t shown enough polish as a pass rusher. While I love his physical play style and what he can do as a run defender at the point of attack, I really wanted more from him as a pass rusher. Not every problem is a nail in the NFL, so his hammering pass rush style won’t always be effective.

He reminds me a lot of Yaya Diaby in his playing style. Not extremely polished coming out of college, but dripping with talent and athletic ability. Not the type of prospect that I would want to gamble on in the first round, but an excellent addition in round two.

Tykee Smith – B+

The Bucs wanted to improve in coverage going into this season. The pass defense was picked apart far too often last year as the team switched from primarily man coverage, to more zone heavy. Changes had to be made in the secondary.

We saw this with the trade of Carlton Davis. Now Zyon McCollum is expected to step in and start as someone who fits the direction of the defense better and has more play making ability on the ball. This was also a point of emphasis. 

The Buccaneers add similar skill upgrades with Smith. He had four interceptions in college last year and is a better, more athletic coverage player than last year’s starting nickel Chris Izien. It’s not the outside cornerback that some expected, but Smith fits the bill for everything the Bucs wanted.

Jalen McMillan – A+

The sad reality is that Chris Godwin and Mike Evans will both probably be gone two years from now. The Buccaneers had to add a wide receiver who could potentially be the future of their pass catching room. McMillan was the perfect fit to be that guy.

At Washington, McMillan thrived as their slot receiver. Even in a high flying dynamic passing attack with two other receivers who went ahead of him in the draft, it was easy to see his game changing ability on tape. It’s no shock that he was the one to score the Huskies only touchdown in their national championship game loss to that lockdown Michigan defense.

This is the perfect player to fill the Cooper Kupp/Puka Nacua role in this Bucs McVay offense. McMillan has great hands and plus route running ability. Expect him to catch a lot of passes and consistently keep the chains moving over the middle. 

Bucky Irving – B-

This is admittedly not the mold that I expected the Bucs to target. I was looking for a bigger, more physical back to help pick up first downs on short yardage situations and punish defenses in the red zone. A true compliment to what they have in Rachaad White. 

However, that isn’t to say that I don’t like Irving as a player. He catches the ball well and does an excellent job of avoiding initial tacklers. It’s honestly a very similar skillset to what White provides this offense. 

I feel really good about the depth of the running back room after this pick. White, Irving and Chase Edmonds are all guys who can do similar things, so the offense never really has to change regardless of who is in there. I just wish there was a tougher, more physical element to the room than what they have.

Elijah Klein – C+

I didn’t know anything about Klein when the Bucs picked him at the end of the 6th round. However, after going back and watching him I feel like this is a nice addition this late in the draft.

Klein was part of a very run-heavy offense in college. He was often asked to pull and maximize angels in space to create a running lane. This skill set should mesh well with what the Buccaneers are trying to do in the running game this year. 

I’m not sure I love him as a pass protector, but he also had less opportunity than other guys at his position due to the nature of his offense. I project him as a nice depth piece with spot start potential down the line.

Devin Culp – B

I am a firm believe that at this point in the draft you are looking to draft traits. Incredibly gifted players that could be developed into something down the line. Culp fits that profile that I would be looking for. 

When you have a tight end prospect that runs a 4.47 40-yard dash, it’s worth looking at. For context, that is the same speed his teammate at Washington Jalen McMillan ran and faster than teammate Ja’Lynn Polk (both wide receivers). This is the developmental pass catcher at tight end that the Bucs needed and he has the talent to turn into something down the line.

Overall grade B+

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