Tykee Smith The Sleeper

May 13th, 2024

Bucs DB Tykee Smith.

Yeah, Joe knows a bunch of fans are trying to pick the sleeper in the Bucs’ draft last month. It’s fun to try to project how players develop.

Joe hears a lot about running back Bucky Irving and receiver Jalen McMillan and Joe gets it. Those guys play flashy positions where good plays generally win games if not show up on SchlockCenter highlights.

And sure, Joe agrees, it would be exciting for the Bucs to have a running back who can make dudes miss for a change or get a Chris Godwin clone. Joe, however, is looking at a sleeper in a man currently without a position.

The Bucs drafted defensive back Tykee Smith in the third round and want him on the field possibly as a nickel corner. He’s naturally a safety but good luck stealing time from Jordan Whitehead (maybe safeties coach Nick Rapone’s favorite player) or All-Pro Antoine Winfield.

But damn if this Smith isn’t a ballhawk. Jenna Laine of ESPN dug up college stats of Smith’s that just jump off the page how this guy is always around the ball.

In 51 college games, he had eight interceptions, five sacks, 21.5 tackles for a loss and 140 tackles.

His four interceptions at Georgia were tied for third-most in the SEC last year. He allowed 83 passing yards as the primary defender last season, with a 3.0 passing yards per attempt allowed — fourth in the SEC among defensive backs with 200 or more coverage snaps. He allowed a 39.3 completion percentage on 28 pass attempts last year — 10th best in the SEC — while his 19.1 raw QBR allowed as the primary defender was fifth in the SEC.

Smith’s pass defense stats are impressive. But really, how many safeties do you know of who rack up as many tackles for loss like Smith did? That’s stuff you might see from Rondé Barber (at safety) or Winfield.

Good coaches usually find ways to get good players on the field. And Joe gets that Smith is in a logjam at safety.

Could the Bucs sometimes go with a three-safety set? Rapone mentioned how, with the Jets, they played Whitehead deeper at times than he ever played with the Bucs and Whitehead pulled it off.

So could Whitehead compensate as a hybrid corner on some plays in order to get Smith on the field at the same time Winfield is also prowling the secondary? It’s something Joe’s going to keep an eye on.

30 Responses to “Tykee Smith The Sleeper”

  1. Leopold Stotch Says:

    See this is why this wasn’t the greatest pick. I know Todd Bowles loves this kid, I’m sure he’ll be a great Buc. The issue is getting him on the field. Who do we take out to run the 3 of them, like against the Chiefs in the superbowl? Once we got Jordan back, it was no longer a need. Antoine isn’t going anywhere. I guess I shouldn’t worry yet.

  2. JAB Says:

    I thought Smith was #23?
    Looks like maybe that’s a picture of Bucky Irving (#7)

  3. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    “Ronde Barber (at safety)”

    Refresh my mind…did Ronde switch to safety? (I’m thinking maybe toward the end of his career, but I’m not sure…been a while).

    Also, how tall was Ronde?

  4. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:


    I think you are right.

  5. Leopold Stotch Says:

    I was thinking the same lol. Wrong picture, Joe?

  6. Daryl Green Says:

    Really, we play with three safeties all the time.

  7. heyjude Says:

    JAB and Leopold are right. Smith is 23 and Bucky is 7. That is okay we all make mistakes, and it gave me a laugh too this morning before work. Either way Smith could be the sleeper. Can’t wait for the season to begin. Go Bucs!

  8. Todd Says:

    Remember TB talking about chess pieces?

    Well CHECK MATE Atlanta!

  9. Hodad Says:

    I thought somehow Tykee was talking about Bucky player pictured. Go back to full caffine coffee Joe.

  10. Let Them Eat Bake Says:

    I’ve said it before, but I can definitely see us shifting to a base 3-3-5 defense with 2 corners and 3 safeties in the secondary. With TB running it, that’s an extremely flexible base D.

  11. Larrd Says:

    Every team needs more than two safeties. It is not dot-to-dot or fill in the blanks.

  12. Pickgrin Says:

    Tykee seemed like a luxury pick considering Winfield and Whitehead are likely the best tandem of starting safeties in the NFL.

    Drafting a starter at Guard was the obvious need in the 3rd round. Apparently Tykee was at the top of Jason’s board at #89 and/or Todd Bowles was pounding the table for the kid.

    Hopefully this Bulldog is so good the Bucs can’t keep him off the field. If he doesn’t earn the starting Nickle spot – then I guess they will insert him as a hybrid spot ‘playmaker’ – kinda like Mike Edwards role when he was here playing with Winfield and Whitehead.

  13. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    It seems to me that he will be challenging Izien for playing time….reminds me of Mike Edwards a bit.

  14. Jeffs grandpa Says:

    Tykee looks alot like Bucky Irvin and even switched #’s with him

  15. Dude Says:

    Look up what Bowles did with Deon Buchannon in Arizona and you’ll get an idea of what he can do with Smith, or DeLoach for that matter. Also there’ve been instances, most notably Dean @The Saints in 2022 where he lined up as a boundary CB, but had the responsibility of sinking into a deep third from that position and Dean finished the play with a pick.

  16. K2 Says:

    Agree with the other comments…that’s a picture of Bucky Irvin

  17. George R Says:

    Britt is not the best in coverage. Only go with 1 LB and add in the extra safety.

    3 CB
    3 Safety’s
    1 LB
    4 D-lineman

  18. SB~LV Says:

    The only position that a player can make a immediate impact with a relatively flat learning curve .
    Get ball
    See hole
    Hit hole
    Juke defender

  19. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Whitehead is a heat seeking missile. Jumped for joy when we brought him back. Sounds like all 3 safety’s can either play at LOS or deep. Without having a tru starting LB next to LVD maybe 3 saftey sets are more likely now. Can’t wait to see what this defense can do. Honestly we were lacking a tru pass rusher a saftey which getting whitehead back takes care of that and a LB to start next to LVD. Only time will tell if sending CD111 packing and replacing him with zyon or hall was a good call before that happen with the addition of whitehead and hopefully getting a pass rusher this defense could be elite. Hey word could be. Really was lacking sacks and another saftey and we took care of the safety spot. Need our new pass rusher and yaya to be the real deal if not then back to middle of pack.

  20. Rich Says:

    It’s called BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE…..this kid is a baller and the BPA strategy is what keeps teams good!

  21. JimBobBuc Says:

    I can see Tykee in the slot where he can blitz and attack the wide run game.

    Joe, I’d like to hear where both Tykee and McMillan are lined up? I’m guessing slot for both.

  22. Mark A Swygert Says:

    Every time he is asked where he is being trained, Smith has replied, “At safety and in the slot.” So slot is obviously his most direct route to playing time.

  23. Canabuc Says:

    I am kind of shocked about all the people in the comments who keep saying how are we gonna get him on the field? We already have two great safeties…

    Practically all of his snaps at Georgia were in the slot or nickel corner position. In Todd Bowles defense, the slot or nickel corner is on the field quite a bit. I strongly suspect, if not immediately certainly buy a third of the way into the season, he will be our starting slot nickel corner. He will also be cross trained at safety so that we have Deb there should one of Whitehead or Winfield to get injure I think Christian is and will also cross train at both positions and will be the back up slot corner and safety as well.

    The more I learn about this player the more I think he was a perfect pic in this offense. He has a playmaker. He is great against the run and has a nose for the football. We struggled with turnovers in the past from our secondary and I think he will help light fire ther..

  24. kaimaru Says:

    @George R

    Considering PFF has KL Britt as a much better LB in coverage than DW, I doubt that

  25. Dave Pear Says:

    There’s no question, Todd the Complexer will have him playing 6 different positions and so confused the poor dude won’t know whether to take a dump or check his phone.

  26. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    Dave Pear for the downer again. 🤡

  27. Dave Pear Says:

    What’s Todd’s W-L record as Bucs head coach? How about as Jets head coach? What alleged defensive genius had the third worst pass defense in the NFL last year?

  28. Shane Callahan Says:

    I think D-backs are D-backs. Play the best on the team on the field as much as possible.

  29. Weebs10 Says:

    Dave Pear it’s pretty easy to take a dump while checking your phone, so the kid will be just fine.

  30. Jordan Says:

    In dime package, you have two slot corners. He’s going to play quite a bit from that, competition, and injury.