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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Expect High-Level Contributions from Third-Round Pick Tykee Smith

Georgia defensive back Tykee Smith, the first of two third-round picks made by the Bucs on Friday night, could compete immediaely for a job at nickel corner


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Georgia defensive back Tykee Smith with the 26th pick of the third round in the 2024 NFL Draft (89th overall) on Friday night, and they think he has the skills to be a difference maker in the team's secondary.

"We require a lot of our DBs here," said Assistant General Manager John Spytek. "I think a lot of NFL teams do. It's a really hard position to play. But in particular here, we stress them mentally, we stress them physically with the amount we blitz. They have to be resilient, and want to make plays on the ball when they have a chance, and from that aspect Tykee does all those things at a really high level."

The Buccaneers have a pair of starting safeties in Antoine Winfield Jr. and the newly-signed Jordan Whitehead, and 2023 undrafted free agent Christian Izian ably handled the slot corner job in 2023. However, the team always wants to foster competition at those important positions and Smith will get an immediate chance to fight for the nickel corner job.

View pictures of University of Georgia CB Tykee Smith, who Tampa Bay selected in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

"He played nickel at a really high level at Georgia," said Spytek. "He also played safety at a really high level at West Virginia, so we love the versatility of it. Obviously, with Antoine here and Jordan here, we'll probably see how he does at nickel first, but where he goes from there…is he a long-term safety? Maybe. He had a lot of picks at West Virginia. We love the versatility of him."

Spytek says the Bucs expect Smith to compete for a significant role on defense right away. Smith's experience on Georgia's smothering offense is a good launching point.

"That's a great program at Georgia," said Spytek. "When you sit down with those kids at Georgia, especially the defensive players, and you talk through coverages with them, blitzes, all that stuff, they are so well-drilled in school, you can see why they are so good at playing defense in the SEC. And then they happen to be really talented athletes, too.

"So I think from that standpoint, Tykee is way ahead of a lot of kids who would enter the NFL, and in a defense where we ask a lot of our secondary, they have to know a lot of things, they have to be versatile, they have to think really fast, think on the fly. To me, that's always the hurdle. These guys that you pick up Day One, Day Two, they're usually pretty good athletes; it's really the mental stuff that will slow them down. For Tykee, I think we would expect him to come in and compete for that nickel spot right away. Nothing's promised here, obviously. We'll see how it goes. We like a lot of what he did."

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