Was Bucky Irving Drafted To Supplement Or Supplant Rachaad White?

May 20th, 2024

Bucs RB Bucky Irving.

The reaction Joe gets after typing stories about Rachaad White is bipolar if not Jekyll and Hyde.

When Joe types about how damn good White is catching the ball out of the backfield, the reaction is pretty much: “Yeah, that’s it! You’re right, Joe!”

When Joe types about what an awful running back he is, the haters come at Joe like a Banzai charge at the Marines on Saipan.

There may only be one running back (Christian McCaffery) in the league better in the passing game than White. As a running back, Joe finds it interesting White’s “baseball card” numbers last year are virtually identical to his rookie season (despite having two different quarterbacks and two different coordinators). White’s advanced stats? Well, there is just no way to sugarcoat it; they are downright terrible.

Joe thought the drafting of Oregon running back Bucky Irving in the fourth round was a message to White that his running really needs to pick up.

But Field Yates of BSPN seems to think Irving was selected to give White a breather in the passing game.

Tampa Bay relied a ton on Rachaad White last season, as he was tied for second in the NFL in carries (272 with Christian McCaffrey) and was fourth among all backs in catches (64), playing an indispensable role for the Bucs. But the addition of Irving will offset some of White’s work and likely make him a more efficient player. Irving is a star receiver — his 56 catches last season were the most of any FBS running back — and he averaged 7.1 yards per rush on runs between the tackles. The Buccaneers were last in the league in rushing (1,509 yards) and could use his juice in the backfield.

Joe is not a big believer in getting one of your star players the ball less (and White is a star catching the ball). Joe is not arguing Yates’ point about Irving giving White needed rest. But why give a guy who excels (at least in the passing game) less of a chance to do so?

If White needs fewer snaps in any element of the game, it’s running the ball, not catching passes.

For example, surely the Bucs aren’t trying to find a way to gameplan for fewer targets for Mike Evans.

43 Responses to “Was Bucky Irving Drafted To Supplement Or Supplant Rachaad White?”

  1. Leighroy Says:

    Yeah it’s an interesting debate at this position. White is a very good receiving RB, no doubt. Is he a star for that trait? IDK, that seems like hyperbole. It’s not like he’s the 2nd coming of Darren Sproles or Marshall Faulk, and he didn’t make the pro-bowl either. But I’ve always thought of White as an ideal 3rd down RB.

    If you can come close to replicating his stats receiving with a 4th round rookie, and enable White to be better rested on 1st and 2nd down to be a more effective RB1, then I can see the logic.

    But if White doesn’t evolve into a true RB1, and the Bucs are jamming a square peg into a round hole, then I think we have 2 3rd down backs on the roster and still looking for a true (read effective) RB1. Problem is, no one else on the roster is better suited to take on that role currently than White.

  2. BillyBucco Says:

    How can we possibly answer that question at this juncture. The Bucs brass don’t even know that answer. They want to share the workload with a capable back who has a different running style and mission accomplished. Im NOT convinced White is a terrible runner. Let’s see what he can do with an offensive staff that ACTUALLY cares about running the ball and drafts accordingly. Not a BA chunk it down the field staff that ONLY cares about pass blocking and drafted that way for a decade. Even Koetter wanted to throw the ball down field with Jamies.
    If Irving is better than he will supplant White. If they are equal, it will be a great 1,2 punch.
    I guarantee the thinking wasn’t we want to supplant White, but supplementing a top 5 all purpose yards back makes more sense.

  3. SB~LV Says:

    Supplemental role…
    this year.

  4. gotbbucs Says:

    Coen comes from the coaching tree that tends to ride the hot hand. White hasn’t done nearly enough on the ground to be considered untouchable

  5. SB~LV Says:

    Remember the OL woes the last two years

  6. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I like that Irving can do it all vs knowing it will be a run most likely if he’s in the backfield.

    I may be wrong but i feel like the strength of the McVay 11 personnel type attack is consistently showing the same type of look pre-snap with 1 RB and 3 WR but being able to run most your entire playbook with a ton of wrinkles from that same look.

  7. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    White would not be in the NFL if he couldn’t catch the ball. His coaches have done their best to turn him into a quality runner.

    I don’t think we’ll have a quality running game until we see a shift in the approach to it. The Bucs have not had one since ground and pound was abandoned for finesse.

    We need a bulldozer.

  8. Dude Says:

    Coach Peete said all that RB1/2/3 stuff doesn’t matter to the staff, they go with whomever has the most impact and is the most consistent

    The answer is no, no right away as Irving is going to have to get comfortable(and good) as a pass blocker to be able to handle a 3-down back workload as a pro. Now if you were to say the rotation is to give Irving a role as an early down back.

    I really do hope we go with less of a bellcow approach(players not plays), and prime all of the talent in the RB room to have some sort of role as a committee of offensive contributors. Still like having Chase Edmonds as a vet on-hand and still very curious about the case of Sean Tucker.

  9. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Use Bucky maily on 1st and 2nd downs. White on 3rd down and in the 4th quarter when defenses are worn down.

  10. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Deff need an upgrade at running the ball. I don’t deny that. White is 2nd best at receiving out of the back field only CMC is better. Few things tho. It’s a passing league and the Bucs are built to pass so why not play to our strengths right ? When we do pass we light it up. Before Brady Bucs could pass the ball better than most teams only a few teams were better and that was when Winston was giving the ball away like candy on Halloween. Then came Brady and we had the 2nd best offense in almost every category. Even with baker we are still built to pass the ball. I do get it tho we need to be more balanced and I agree having the worst running game now 2 years in a row is terrible. I’m pretty sure we will deff be middle of the pack this year which will be a huge jump cause of 2 reasons maybe 3. 1st we have a new OC. Love canales and what he did in his 1st year ever at OC but let’s be honest he was inexperienced and it showed. With coen and his experience at the college level and pro level we should improve. 2nd reason is we added to the O-line. Our 1st draft will deff help improve the running game. He’s a rookie still tho deff will be some learning curves and mistakes made. How great wirfs is he still made rookie mistakes his 1st year too. 3rd is whites running game should improve as he will be in his third year and with Irving coming in I bet that pushes white as well.

  11. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Back when we had Mike Allstott, I remember oposing players stating in interviews that they hated when he got the ball, because if he ran at them they were going to feel pain.

    So…imagine this:
    We have two big, nasty, hard-hitting RBs in i-formation and they take turns hitting the Dline throughout the first quarter. They wear down the DLine and put the fear in them.

    Then you put the finesse RB in with one of them lead blocking.

    Boom. Instant production. And it will completely break the opposing pass rush.

  12. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Irving is too small to be productive this year.

  13. Beeej Says:

    If White picks up during training camp/preseason we’ll know it was the line

  14. StickinUp4Centers Says:

    Irving being a capable pass catcher is an advantage. Him being in there won’t tip the defense if it’s a run or pass.

  15. Gnick Says:

    I won’t debate that White is a good receiver out of the back field or that Irving is (and talented up the gut), but it feels like what we needed was a thumper to do one job and then let White do his vs two people with similar skill sets to compliment each other. Time will tell.

  16. M1K3_Fanclub Says:

    Bucky Buc should do well in the passing game as well. So elusive.

  17. SB~LV Says:

    Bucky is not a small back
    He is a short back
    193 @ 5’9” is solid!

  18. Durango 95 Says:

    There is an overlap in skills with these two players which is why I was a little gun shy on the Irving pick. Really these two are both classic 3rd down backs but if Irving can roll his rushing skills from college to Coen’s offense then I’m hopeful he can use his quickness to bust some bigger gains compared to White. Although I suspect he might be a little bit hampered due to his lack of top end speed. Let’s see how that plays itself out. I was hoping for a more of an all around RB w/ more of a power game in the third round but perhaps the guy they were targeting was off the board. Not as high on this dude as some but if I’m wrong it wouldn’t be the first time and it won’t be the last.

  19. Defense Rules Says:

    Lord C … ‘I may be wrong but i feel like the strength of the McVay 11 personnel type attack is consistently showing the same type of look pre-snap with 1 RB and 3 WR but being able to run most your entire playbook with a ton of wrinkles from that same look.’

    If you’re wrong then so am I because I was thinking the very same thing. But with a twist in our case: White lining up as 1 of the WRs (OK, so it’d be 2 RBs & 2 WRs). Rachaad is well-suited for a slot WR role, except that once he gets in space he’s pretty elusive. I could even see Coen throwing in wrinkles where Irving lines up as the 3rd WR with White as RB1 just to confuse the living daylights out of defenses.

    I still wish though that we’d drafted a Clydesdale like Braelon Allen or Audric Estime for those gotta-have 3rd-and-1 situations. I miss Alstott.

  20. Cobraboy Says:

    You need two backs to be effective for an entire season.

    Drafting Irving tells me the team has less confidence in RB depth.

  21. Lord Cornelius Says:


    I like that thought (White as the 3rd WR with Bucky & White both on the field).

    I also was kind of wanting an Allen or Estime type back in the draft, but Bucky has grown on me

  22. Bucs Guy Says:

    I don’t believe Bucky can be a feature back (White either). So they better work as a tandem. Estime has shown he could be a feature back. What do the Bucs want? I don’t know. RB by feature or by committee?

  23. Pewter Power Says:

    If you’re drafting players to be backups then you’re probably not doing your job right. Competition is what it’s about and may the best man win except for yaya, Bowles let him sit on the bench even though he was leading the team in sacks

  24. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Why try to create some kind of controversy here……everyone could probably agree that we needed to add a RB in the draft.
    White can’t continue to be used as much……
    Irving is a good compliment to the RB room.
    He also has the type of skills that will help in ht new KR rules…..

  25. BucVoyager Says:

    If Bucky comes out in preseason with big plays, I definitely want to see him get major playing time.

    We know he can make guys miss, but can he do it against NFL staters.

    Can he run to daylight? I know White has an issue with that.

  26. SlyPirate Says:


    Depth. The Bucs went all in 2021 to keep all 22 starters. They sacrificed depth to retain starters. Licht has rebuilt an amazing team without significant holes. Now, they are building depth.

    Next year the Bucs have FA Godwin, Wirfs, and LVD. They’ll need a new LG, MLB, WR. That’s it! They’ll have 7 draft picks and $29M in cap. The next 2 years (or more) the Bucs will be stockpiling talent.

    They’ll be COMPLETE and DEEP.

  27. stpetebucfan Says:

    D.R. and LordCorn

    Again as usual I agree with both your takes. I too preferred Braelen Allen to provide Bonzai’s road grader. Didn’t happen so Coen will use what he has.

    I like the way you guys think about using these guys creatively perhaps both in the game at the same time. In the NFL it’s a very rare team than can go all Woody Hayes and line up and say we’re running it right at you. Athletes are simply too good. However create just a split second of hesitation and the play can work.

    I still think this is still a bit premature. The OL could be improved significantly!
    It’s not just Barton it’s Goeddeke getting comfortable in his 2nd year at his position and Mauch now has a full NFL season under his belt. He’ll be better as well. Mauch is the last fiery red head left with Jensen now gone.

    What I like about this OL is those 3 guys I just mentioned all “play to the whistle”. Instead of Jensen having to supply all the “mean” juice to the OL there are now 3 guys who love to mix it up and get nasty.

  28. PNW Buc Says:

    2025 is loaded with stud RBs.
    White and Irving will be auditioning for the #2 role.

  29. Biff Barker Says:

    Short story is Bucky can run between tackles.

    White is a converted receiver, not a RB.

  30. Dave Pear Says:

    Todd will make sure that whoever runs with the ball has busted blocking assignments in front of him, and make it a threepeat for the worst rushing offense in football history.

  31. Rundunn Says:

    I think bucky could be the answer to the Bucs run problems. Watching this kid on tape reminds me of another little guy who no one could get their hands on. He drove D lines nuts. Not because he was the fastest on the field but because of his ability to stop on a dime change directions and take off again at lighting speed.
    Yes he had the ability to make people miss even when they thought they had him.
    The little Guys name? Barry Sanders anyone remember him?

  32. Toad Bowels Says:

    Bucky, Chase Edmunds and White all have similar skill sets. Drafting Bucky may spell the end of the ift injured RB Chase Edmunds as Rashard White’s back up.

    That leaves us with the need for a short yardage back who might be one of the other backs in camp, could be Ko Kieft in an Alstott like role or could be a post draft Free agent signed.

  33. White Tiger Says:

    Both RB’s will benefit from better iOL obtained in the draft & added in FA. Both are similar and will only assist in the run game.

  34. drdneast Says:

    White may have has two different QB’s and OC’s, but he had virtually the same entire line of college OT’s blocking for him. You can’t run to daylight if you have a huge bank of dark billowing clouds advancing on you.

  35. bob in valrico Says:

    Who knows how Irving will turn out. His size and body type remind me of Darren
    Sproles who had several years of 2200 plus all purpose yards. I don’t believe in a the feature back system, Prefer two backs to change things up.

  36. ChiBuc Says:

    I like the idea of both lining up in the backfield and White going in motion and getting in space pre-snap, play like a slot but covered by a LB. IMAGE an OC who uses motion and exploits personnel matchups. We as fans are due some creative play calling

  37. DvaderZ51 Says:

    Dave Pear
    “Todd will make sure that whoever runs with the ball has busted blocking assignments in front of him, and make it a threepeat for the worst rushing offense in football history.”
    Why are you always so doom and gloom? Coen likes to run a modern version of the “West Coat” offense. He now has two RB’s that are great receivers. I don’t 100% agree with some on here that White can’t run. He had some great runs called back by BS penalties away from the play that would have totally changed his yards per carry number. If the OL is improved as it should be Coen can mix and match, put em both in etc.. Should be a lot less painfull to watch than last year’s 1st and 2nd down up the gut for no gain.
    Then again we pretty much all said that last year about Canales coming in.

  38. Dude Says:

    “I don’t 100% agree with some on here that White can’t run.”

    Yea I don’t agree with this either. Seems like people are making the problems we had on the IOL and making them a Rachaad White problem, yet there’s plenty of film of him turning nothing runs into something and housing screen passes for scores last season. We’re legitametly on our 3rd OC in Whites’ 3rd season as a pro, I’d shoot the kid a little bail

  39. Pewter Power Says:

    lol he has to prove he’s not sneak Vaughn or even worse Kyle Trask a second round pick that couldn’t get a jersey on game day.

    If he’s third on the depth chart on opening day……insert whatever comment you want

  40. Mark A Swygert Says:

    We got Bucky with the 125th pick, and the Bills snagged Ray Davis, Coen’s leading rusher from Kentucky, with the 127th. This suggests that Coen had a clear preference for the kid from Oregon. If he had pounded the table for his guy, then surely Licht would have consented, but apparently Coen saw more to like in Irving. Look at his film. He is the smaller back who knows how to make himself even smaller at the beginning of a play. He moves forward, but twists his upper body around so that defenders can’t get a clean shot. You can’t teach this. It is a god-given talent. I think Coen is drawing up ways to use this kid because he is special.

  41. Florida made me Says:

    He was drafted to eventually replace White.

  42. Ol' Boy Says:

    Is Dalvin Cook cooked?

  43. Onetrickpony Says:

    Come home#40, wherever you are