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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Officially Announce 18 UDFA Signings

The Bucs signed 18 undrafted rookies on Friday, a group that includes Iowa S Kaevon Merriweather, Shepherd RB Ronnie Brown and Kansas State WR Kade Warner, son of Hall-of-Fame QB Kurt Warner

UDFA list_

The Bucs signed 18 undrafted rookies on Friday, a group that includes Iowa S Kaevon Merriweather, Shepherd RB Ronnie Brown and Kansas State WR Kade Warner, son of Hall-of-Fame QB Kurt Warner//

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pushed their offseason roster close to the 90-man limit on Thursday by signing 18 undrafted rookie free agents. That group includes an 1,800-yard rusher from 2022, an FCS All-American wideout and the son of a Pro Football Hall-of-Famer.

The Buccaneers' spoils in the proverbial "eighth round" of the draft – which the team only officially announced after the players arrived for the upcoming rookie mini-camp and actually signed their contracts – brings the total number of rookies on the current roster to 26. Tampa Bay selected eight players in the 2023 NFL Draft over the weekend, beginning with Pittsburgh defensive lineman Calijah Kancey with the 19th overall pick.

Kancey, second-round guard Cody Mauch and third-round outside linebacker YaYa Diaby are among the newcomers who could carve out significant roles rather quickly. Those from Thursday's group of signees may have some more ground to make up, but the Buccaneers' current roster features plenty of contributors who started in the undrafted ranks, including Shaq Barrett, Ryan Neal, Nick Leverett and Deven Thompkins.

The 18 newest Buccaneers will take part in a three-day mini-camp from Friday through Sunday and will be joined by select first-year players and several dozen additional rookies participating on tryout contracts.

Here are the 18 players the Buccaneers have signed so far as undrafted free agents (UDFAs) in 2023:

• ILB Jeremy Banks, Tennessee
• WR Taye Barber, TCU
• OLB Brandon Bouyer-Randle, Connecticut
• RB Ronnie Brown, Shepherd
• LS Evan Deckers, Duke
• T Silas Dzansi, Virginia Tech
• T Luke Haggard, Indiana
• CB Keenan Isaac, Alabama State
• S Christian Izien, Rutgers
• WR Rakim Jarrett, Maryland
• OLB Nelson Mbanasor, Texas State
• S Kaevon Merriweather, Iowa
• WR Ryan Miller, Furman
• G/C Chris Murray, Oklahoma
• T Raiqwon O'Neal, UCLA
• CB Derrek Pitts, North Carolina State
• TE Tanner Taula, Illinois State
• WR Kade Warner, Kansas State

The aforementioned 1,800-yard rusher is Shepherd's Ronnie Brown (6-0, 190), who racked up 2,352 yards from scrimmage at the Division II level. Brown was a first-team Division II All-American last fall after scoring 24 total touchdowns for the Rams. His career totals in 41 games for Shepherd included 3,041 rushing yards (8.2 per carry), 81 receptions for 1,158 yards and 41 total touchdowns.

The Bucs had only six receivers on the roster after drafting Nebraska's Trey Palmer in the sixth round and thus unsurprisingly picked up four more after the draft was over. That quartet included FCS All-American Ryan Miller from Furman as well as Kansas State's Kade Warner, who is the son of Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner.

Miller (6-1, 209) caught 72 passes for 762 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Paladins in 2022, achieving consensus All-American status and leading the team in receiving. Over five seasons and 53 games, he racked up 151 catches for 2,146 yards and 28 scores. Warner (6-1, 204) played his final two seasons at Kansas State after transferring from Nebraska in 2021 and was able to contribute 60 receptions for 622 yards and five touchdowns. Much of that production came in his senior year, when he hauled in 46 passes for 456 yards and a team-leading five touchdown receptions.

Those two are joined by TCU's Taye Barber and Maryland's Rakim Jarrett. Barber (5-10, 190) earned either Second-Team or Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honors in each of the last four seasons, finishing with 159 career receptions for 2,120 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was one of only three FBS receivers to record three receptions of 70-plus yards in 2022; one of the other two, coincidentally, is Palmer, his new teammate. Jarrett (6-0, 192) was a three-time Honorable Mention All-Big Ten choice while amassing 119 catches for 1,552 yards and 10 touchdowns. He missed time last season with a knee injury but led the Terrapins in 2021 with 62 receptions for 829 yards and five scores.

Tampa Bay also added another potential pass-catcher in Illinois State tight end Tanner Taula (6-6, 255). Taula reeled in 63 passes for 627 yards and four scores over five seasons and 48 total games for the Redbirds. His addition gives the Bucs six tight ends on the roster, including fifth-round pick Payne Durham out of Purdue.

Up front, the Bucs brought in four undrafted offensive linemen, including Oklahoma guard/center Chris Murray, who started 25 games on the Sooners' high-powered offense over the past two seasons. He is joined by a trio of tackles: Virginia Tech's Silas Dzansi, Indiana's Luke Haggard and UCLA's Raiqwon O'Neal.

Murray (6-2, 308) played two seasons at UCLA before transferring to Oklahoma. He started all 24 games he played for the Bruins, including three at center, before moving on to the Sooners. Murray earned Honorable Mention All-Big 12 accolades in each of his two years in Norman. Dzansi (6-5, 335) started 49 games during his tenure at Virginia Tech, seeing action at every spot on the line except center. Last season, he nailed down the Hokies left tackle job after starting at three different positions in 2021.  Haggard (6-7, 297) also started every game at left tackle for the Boilermakers in 2022, his third season in Bloomington after transferring in from Santa Rosa Junior College in California. He started 27 of the 29 games in which he appeared for the Hoosiers, all of them coming at left tackle. O'Neal (6-5, 295) started every game at left tackle for the Bruins in his lone season at UCLA, helping to anchor a line that blocked for 237.2 rushing yards per game. Prior to that, he spent four years at Rutgers, playing left tackle and starting 23 of the 32 games in which he appeared.

Tampa Bay has not yet signed any defensive linemen from the undrafted ranks, but they did pick up two outside linebackers and one inside linebacker. The former duo consists of Connecticut's Brandon Bouyer-Randle and Texas State's Nelson Mbanasor, while the latter is Tennessee's Jeremy Banks.

Bouyer-Randle (6-2, 240) spent just one season at UConn, capping a seven-year college football journey that started at Michigan State and continued at Texas Tech before his final stop. Overall, he played in 48 contests, including bowl games at all three of his stops. For the Huskies, he produced 98 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack in 13 outings, while also intercepting a pair of passes. Mbanasor (6-3, 270) also transferred before his final collegiate season, leaving for Texas State after four seasons at Texas Tech. His last season was his most productive one, as he racked up 34 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Banks (6-1, 220) played parts of five seasons at Tennessee, appearing in a total of 48 games with 19 starts. In 2021, he led the Volunteers in tackles (128), tackles for loss (11.5) and sacks (5.5).

The Bucs added to their secondary on Thursday, sending two each to the cornerback and safety rooms. The corners are Alabama State's Keenan Isaac and North Carolina State's Derrek Pitts; the safeties are Rutgers' Christian Izien and Iowa's Kaevon Merriweather.

Isaac (6-3, 190) appeared in 46 games with 38 starts over five years at Alabama State, recording 166 tackles, three interceptions and 32 passes defensed. Barring a 2020 season in which he saw limited action due to injury, he broke up at least seven passes every year, capped by a team-high 10 in 2022. Pitts (6-1, 193) played his final two collegiate seasons at N.C. State after spending time at both West Virginia and Marshall. For the Wolfpack, he played in 25 games and contributed 94 tackles, two interceptions and 14 passes defensed.

Izien (5-10, 200) spent five years at Rutgers, playing in 50 games with 41 starts and twice earning Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors, including last season. He amassed 303 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions and 19 passes defensed. Merriweather (6-2, 195) was a second-team All-America selection in his senior year after posting 47 tackles, three interceptions, six passes defensed, a forced fumble and 2.0 tackles for loss. His career totals in 45 games (25 starts) for the Hawkeyes include 118 tackles, four interceptions and 12 passes defensed.

The Buccaneers' UDFA shopping also turned up a specialist in Duke long-snapper Evan Deckers. Deckers (6-4, 244) played last season for the Blue Devils as a graduate student after four seasons at Massachusetts. In all, he handled the long-snapping duties for his teams in 53 collegiate outings.

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