Buccaneers Draft RB Bucky Irving to Boost Struggling Run Game

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Oregon running back Bucky Irving in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL draft to revitalize their league-worst rushing attack. Irving's elusiveness and production in college have the Bucs optimistic he can make an immediate impact.

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Nitish Verma
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Buccaneers Draft RB Bucky Irving to Boost Struggling Run Game

Buccaneers Draft RB Bucky Irving to Boost Struggling Run Game

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Oregon running back Bucky Irving in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL draft, aiming to revitalize their league-worst rushing attack. Despite concerns about his 5-foot-10, 195-pound frame, Irving's elusiveness and production in college have the Bucs optimistic he can make an immediate impact.

Irving, whose given name is Mar'Keise but has been called Bucky since childhood due to his buck teeth, put up impressive numbers with the Oregon Ducks last season. He rushed for 1,180 yards and 11 touchdowns while leading all FBS running backs with 56 receptions. Irving's ability to make defenders miss in the open field is a skill the Bucs have sorely lacked.

"I play with a chip on my shoulder, because everyone talks about my size and how small I am," Irving said. "So when I've got the ball in my hands, I'm just trying to not let the first man bring me down, and just run hard. ... I want to have fun out there, making people miss, making them look silly."

Coach Todd Bowles praised Irving's elusiveness, saying, "He can stick his foot in the ground and run the ball, but more importantly, he can make the first guy miss, more often than not. That's a rare trait to have in this ballgame, especially when you know so many guys can tackle well and get to the ball real fast."

The Buccaneers have ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards and yards per attempt in each of the past two seasons. Assistant general manager John Spytek acknowledged Irving's size limitations but emphasized his production and toughness. "There's no secret here that Bucky, he's not Christian Okoye. He's not going to run through people's face all the time," Spytek said. "You look at his production, whether it was at Minnesota or Oregon, he's six yards a carry. He's hard to get on the ground, and for a man that's less than 200 pounds, when you do hit him, which is hard to do, he's hard to knock off his feet."

In addition to his contributions to the running game, Irving is expected to make an impact as a receiver out of the backfield and potentially in the return game under the NFL's new kickoff format that favors shifty, elusive players. He will wear number 7 for the Buccaneers, previously worn by Leonard Fournette.

The Buccaneers are counting on Irving to inject life into a run game that has struggled mightily in recent years. With his explosiveness, elusiveness, and versatility, the rookie running back has the potential to be a dynamic playmaker in Tampa Bay's offense from day one.

Key Takeaways

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Oregon RB Bucky Irving in 4th round of 2024 NFL draft.
  • Irving's elusiveness and production in college impress Bucs despite size concerns.
  • Irving rushed for 1,180 yards and 11 TDs, leading FBS RBs with 56 receptions in 2023.
  • Bucs aim to revitalize league-worst rushing attack with Irving's explosiveness and versatility.
  • Irving expected to make impact as receiver and returner, wearing number 7 for the Buccaneers.