Bucky Irving


Bucky Irving


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Oregon running back Bucky Irving.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers current streak of three consecutive NFC South division championships are even more impressive when you realize how bad their rushing attack has been.

How bad? Like worst-in-the-NFL bad.

According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, one player selected in the 2024 NFL draft might help change all of that after the Buccaneers selected versatile Oregon running back Bucky Irving in the fourth round (No. 125 overall).

“The Bucs have had the league’s worst rushing attack over the past two seasons (82.9 yards per game). Some of that can be attributed to an offensive line that struggled with its interior run blocking and a scheme change last year,” Laine wrote. “Rachaad White is still firmly entrenched as the starter. Still, the coaching staff would like to be able to spell White and give him a breather, and they couldn’t do that last year with Chase Edmonds out the first four regular-season games with an injury.”


Irving Has Been One of CFB’s Best Running Backs

Irving missed his senior season of high school football at Hillcrest (Ill.) High School because of the pandemic and played his first season of college football at Minnesota, where he had 772 yards of total offense and 4 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2021.

Irving transferred to Oregon and was one of college football’s best running backs the last two seasons, topping 1,000 rushing yards each year.

In 2022, Irving had 1,357 yards of total offense and 8 touchdowns. In 2023, he had 1,593 yards of total offense and 13 touchdowns and was named All-Pac-12.

Irving, 5-foot-9 and 192 pounds, saw his draft stock take a bit of a dip when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds at the NFL combine … but his highlight reel made sure he wouldn’t go undrafted.

“We thought he might go a little bit earlier,” Tampa Bay Director of Player Personnel Mike Biehl after the Buccaneers selected Irving. “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.”


Bucs Could Have Breakout Star in Rachaad White

It’s not like the Buccaneers don’t have talent in the backfield.

Third-year running back Rachaad White had 1,539 yards of total offense and 9 touchdowns in 2023 — 990 rushing yards and 549 receiving yards — and led all NFL running backs in offensive snaps.

If Irving can add anything close to White’s production level, it would give the Buccaneers another dimension to the offense that’s been missing for several years.

As good as White has been, he can’t do it all by himself.

“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,” Biehl said. “I think Bucky does that.”

Tony Adame covers the NFL for Heavy.com, with a focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Commanders and Cincinnati Bengals. A veteran sports writer and editor since 2004, his work has been featured at Stadium Talk, Yardbarker, NW Florida Daily News and Pensacola News Journal. More about Tony Adame



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