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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Tab Versatile Blocker Elijah Klein in Sixth Round

The Buccaneers used their sixth pick in the 2024 NFL draft on UTEP's Elijah Klein, who has extensive starting experience at guard but offers valuable flexibility to fill in at tackle and center, as well


After spending four straight picks in the 2024 NFL Draft on players from such power programs as Alabama, Georgia, Oregon and Washington, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a different approach in the sixth round on Saturday, using the 220th overall selection on UTEP guard Elijah Klein. The Buccaneers believe Klein can make the roster and contribute as a late-round pick in part because of his ability to contribute at multiple positions.

"He played guard mostly at UTEP but he did kick out and play some left tackle in a pinch and did a pretty good job there," said Bucs Director of Player Personnel Mike Biehl. "He just kind of fits the mold of a lineman that we have around here – smart, tough, dependable. He plays the game the right way. We think he has the versatility to potentially play center, too. He took some snaps at that spot at his Pro Day. He's just a good late-round pick that we think has a good chance to make it and contribute, and be a part of our offensive line room."

Klein (6-4, 319) played six seasons for the Miners, primarily playing right guard. He started 55 games in that span, with two coming at left tackle. He is a good fit for a zone running scheme with his agility, long arms and play strength. In 2022 he helped the Miners rack up 159.4 rushing yards per game.

Klein is the second interior offensive lineman the Buccaneers have added in the 2024 draft, joining first-round center Graham Barton. This marks the first time that Tampa Bay has taken a pair of offensive linemen in the same draft since 2015, when they used consecutive second-round picks on tackle Donovan Smith and guard Ali Marpet. Klein will obviously strive to become a starter at the NFL level, but at the least he projects as a valuable reserve who can earn a role on game day due to his versatility.

"You never know, guys end up starting out of every round, and even if they go undrafted," said Biehl. "But he just has the traits that we look for in an offensive lineman. He's a pretty good athlete. He's violent with his hands. We think he'll be a good fit and, again, we like the versatility with maybe being able to play multiple positions."

Klein was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine but the Bucs conducted a virtual meeting with him and felt he was a good fit in the team's culture.

"He was a non-Combine guy, so we didn't see him there, but we met with him on Zoom," said Biehl. He's a solid guy. He's from a small town in California, Mount Baldy. It's close to LA but it's kind of up in the mountains. He has a small-town feel to him, which a lot of us Midwesterners around here can relate to. We always talk about the character around here and he fits what we want as a Buccaneer, and the culture we're trying to build."

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