Skip to main content

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Add 'Slippery' Oregon RB Bucky Irving in Fourth Round

Tampa Bay's first pick in Day three of the 2024 NFL Draft addresses the need for more competition in the backfield, as the 125th selection was used on "quick and explosive Oregon running back Bucky Irving


After Rachaad White led all NFL running backs in offensive snaps in 2023, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted to get him some more help in the backfield. They did so on Saturday afternoon by selecting Oregon running back Bucky Irving in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft, making him the 125th selection overall.

"I think that was kind of what we were looking for at some point in this draft, to just add to that group and create competition," said Buccaneers Director of Player Personnel Mike Biehl. "I think Bucky does that."

While the Buccaneers were addressing the receiver and safety positions late in the third round on Friday night, they thought they might not get a shot at Irving, one of the 30 players they chose to bring in for private visits at the AdventHealth Training Center. However, Irving unexpectedly fell into the fourth round, and the Bucs were pleased both to get a shot at him and at the back's reaction to waiting until the third day of the draft to get his call from General Manager Jason Licht.

"We thought he might go a little bit earlier," said Biehl. "He's a guy we brought in on a 'Top 30' visit and spent some time with him. We thought maybe he would be a second-day pick, but he falls to the third day. I think even talking to him, when Jason called him, he had a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, thinking he should have gone earlier. We kind of like that. He's just another right kind of character guy that we've been targeting. He fits that mold."

Like White, Irving has the well-rounded skill set to play on all three downs and to produce both in the ground game and the aerial attack. He cracked 1,000 rushing yards in each of the last two seasons at Oregon and averaged 6.2 yards per carry during his tenure with the Ducks, while also catching 95 passes for 785 yards. He scored 20 touchdowns on the ground and five more through the air.

View pictures of Oregon RB Bucky Irving, who Tampa Bay selected in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

"He's a little undersized but has really good feet and is quick and explosive," said Biehl of the 5-9, 195-pound back. "I would describe him as a slippery runner. And when I say 'undersized' I mean he's more short than slight. He's still got some bulk to him, so he can run with a little power. He's good in the passing game. He's just kind of an all-around good back."

Irving's 2023 season was his most productive, as he ran for 1,180 yards and 11 scores and added 56 catches on his way to second-team All-Pac 12 honors. He led all FBS backs in receptions, and Biehl believes he can be even more productive in that part of his game in the NFL.

"I think a lot of these college guys that come out, the route-running is what they have to improve, but when you see the traits – the quickness and the burst to separate – you know you can coach them up and they get a lot better at that in our league," said Biehl. "I think Bucky falls into that category. He's got really good hands, he's elusive in space, which is a cool trait to have. He's a little bit like Rachaad in that."

The selection of Irving gives Tampa Bay five running backs on its 2024 offseason roster. Irving joins a group that includes White, veterans Chase Edmonds and Patrick Laird and 2023 rookie Sean Tucker. Edmonds re-signed with the team after playing last year on a one-year deal, Laird spent last season on the practice squad and Tucker came aboard as an undrafted free agent out of Syracuse. Over the last 11 weeks of last season, playoffs included, only White and Edmonds took snaps for the Bucs at running back. White led the team with 990 rushing yards and ranked fourth among NFL backs with 1,539 yards from scrimmage, but Tampa Bay's rushing attack finished 32nd in the league in yards per game.

In addition to the selection of Irving, the Buccaneers picked powerful Duke center Graham Barton in the first round. While there is more that will go into improving the rushing attack, those additions should help.

"I think if you look at our stats the last couple years, it kind of shows," said Biehl. "It's not just the running back and the offensive line; there's other things that go into it. But I definitely think it was a point of emphasis to get better in the run game."

Related Content

Latest Headlines