A Gifted Bucs Rookie Class

June 13th, 2024

Todd Bowles loves, loves, loves smart players.

It’s one reason Joe was surprised cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting walked in free agency two years ago. Bowles was enamored with the guy’s smarts.

The Bucs’ front office has done a great job finding Bowles high-football-IQ players. And when you have intelligent rookies, usually that means they can contribute faster than most first-year players.

So Joe made a mental note today when Bowles wrapped up mandatory mincamp and said he’s just watched a spring that showcased “one of the smarter draft classes” he’s seen.

Running back Bucky Irving (fourth round) is on the smart list when it comes to rookies.

“He’s a talented guy, he’s very smart, he’s here early every day,” Bowles said of Irving. “Just look forward to seeing what he can do, so we know where we can use him at.”

As for cornerback Tykee Smith (third round), he got Bowles praise for his brain, too. “Very smart guy, very tough guy,” Bowles said.

Rookie third-round pick receiver Jalen McMillan got the same kind of accolades earlier this week and the whole team seems to say first-round pick center Graham Barton is an A+ when it comes to grasping the offense.

It’s hype season, of course, but Bowles doesn’t throw around “smart” if it’s not deserved.

16 Responses to “A Gifted Bucs Rookie Class”

  1. JimBobBuc Says:

    Bucky and J-Mac are being praised for being smart, but is White is the only one complaining about Coen’s offense?

  2. NJbucs23 Says:

    SMB was trash. Due was always chasing down receivers from behind. I was so happy when he left.

  3. BucsFan55 Says:


  4. SB~LV Says:

    Devin White …

  5. Booger Says:

    Haven’t heard very much about Bras lately, other than being ‘freakishly’ strong… I hope he is smart, too!?

  6. Pickgrin Says:

    I’m excited about this draft class.

    All 5 of our picks from rds 1>4 seem like they are ready to hit the ground running and will see plenty of playing time as rookies.

    I’m also looking forward to seeing additional progress from our 2nd and 3rd year players like Kancey, Mauch, Diaby, McCollum, Otten, Goedeke, Palmer and White.

    Man – even with high round misses on Hall and JTS – that is a ton of young talent Jason Licht has drafted…..

  7. Dave Pear Says:

    They better be. Todd needs Mensa guys to grasp his defense and apparently Coen is similar on offense.

  8. stpetebucfan Says:

    As usual agree with Pickgrin.

    I also agree with Coach Bowles! “Todd Bowles loves, loves, loves smart players.”

    Growing up on the Ohio river just across the bridge from Cincinnati we were fed Cleveland Browns games before the Bengals came with expansion. Kinda like Tampa fans had to be Dolphin fans before the Bucs were created.

    Paul Brown was a genius! He’s the first to be given credit for administering IQ tests to potential draft picks. Before radio communication he utilized “messenger guards” to deliver the plays to the QB’s. He invented or at least popularized the use of face masks. I’m pretty old and I remember as a very young boy, perhaps 5 or 6 one of my Christmas presents was a helmet without a face mask so I don’t take them for credit.

    Before Muncher or someone else wishes to jump on here and make fun of my age let me at least say the helmet was plastic and not leather. LOL

    I have always appreciated smart players and the coaches who work hard to find them!

  9. stpetebucfan Says:

    credit should be granted.

  10. heyjude Says:

    What a breath of fresh air hearing what Bowles is saying about these rookies. Bucky is there early every single day. That says so much. Tykee and McMillen big kudos. And Barton is A+. It is getting excited. Approximately 60 days before our preseason game. Around 90 days before our first regular game.

  11. SlyPirate Says:

    Pickgrin Says:
    I’m also looking forward to seeing additional progress from our 2nd and 3rd year players like Kancey, Mauch, Diaby, McCollum, Otten, Goedeke, Palmer and White.


    YES!!!! Everyone is so focused on rookies. It’s Year 2 players that are more exciting. What did you learn? How do you grow over the offseason?

    Goedeke went from dud to Pro Bowl potential.
    Camarda was a weapon.
    Zyon went from special teams to starter.
    Otton and White became solid starters.

  12. dbbuc711 Says:

    The interesting thing about “smart” players is that they generally work harder than others do.

  13. Rod Munch Says:

    Who cares if a runningback is smart? Seriously, just run forward, make guys miss. It’s literally the most dumb-proof position on the team.

  14. David Says:

    Basically talent + football intelligence.

    Very hard to succeed without both. SMB had no talent.

  15. KABucs Says:

    I like where Bucky Irving’s mind is at. He’s definitely wise for his age, not going on any kind of vacation but rather staying in Fort Lauderdale and training for the next 5 weeks so we can be acclimated even more to the heat/humidity. I think that’s great. Also, for the Kyke Trask lovers (I like him as a backup and you never know what he can accomplish if he’s given an opportunity, a la Purdy), but I really am impressed with the fact that he made an audio rec for Bucky Irving (I’m assuming for some of the other players as well) so they can listen to the offensive installs at night on their own to learn the offense even better. What a great help and an amazing sign of leadership. I like to hear the players are working hard to help each other out but also they are taking time into their evening to lock in and focus on learning this offense. I’m expecting big things from Irving and I give kudos to Trask.

  16. garro Says:

    The cautionary tale of Jeremy McNichols comes to mind.

    I have actually seen this happen. A talented guy that is totally lost on the field bcause he does not know the plays.

    McNichols was Injured and missed OTAs. Plenty of time to get into the play book.

    Apparently didn’t bother to crack it open. Missed a protection in a preseason game that led to a sack. Was cut/offered the PS. Still in the league but I’m pretty sure he has learned at least one or two playbooks since then.

    Learn your plays guys!

    Go Bucs!